For the very first time, scientists claim they have successfully boosted creativity within people using non-invasive electrical stimulation. The people who had their brains “stimulated” were tested and the results indicated their creativity was boosted by an average of 7.4 percent.
This is the first evidence that brain stimulation can trigger specific behavioral changes. However, what’s even more promising is that the scientists think such stimulation techniques can be used to treat depression owing to the similarities the disease shares with creativity.
To achieve the feat, a team from the University of North Carolina in the U.S used a low dose of electrical current to enhance brain waves called alpha oscillations. Incidentally these oscillations are commonly observed when a person daydreams. Great scientists like Einstein and other brilliant personalities have been known to use this phase to stimulate their minds.
Those who were subjected to electrical stimulation, were assessed for their level of creativity using a well-validated and common test called the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking, where participants are given a small fragment of an illustration and asked to complete it. Though the creativity within the test group was boosted, making us better versions of ourselves isn’t the end goal of this research, shared senior author Flavio Frohlich,
“This study is a proof-of-concept. We’ve provided the first evidence that specifically enhancing alpha oscillations is a causal trigger of a specific and complex behavior – in this case, creativity. But our goal is to use this approach to help people with neurological and psychiatric illnesses.
“Specifically, there’s already strong evidence that people with depression have impaired alpha oscillations. If we could enhance these brain activity patterns, then we could potentially help many people.”
The EEG scans indicate the peaks and troughs that occur in many different frequencies. Identifying the critical ranges was vital to the research, explained the researchers. Alpha oscillations occur within the low range between 8 and 12 Hertz, and are most prominent when we close our eyes and meditate or get lost in our own thoughts. As soon as we have more pressing tasks to attend to, higher frequencies such as gamma oscillations take over.
Having established the fact that alpha oscillations were triggered during creative thinking, the scientists then experimented with placebo electrical stimulations as well as ones, which stimulated only the gamma oscillations.
Though scientists admit they are far from treating depression, they are confident that people stuck with a particularly troubling thought within their mind, could be coaxed out of the rut, with some good old electrical stimulation.
[Image Credit |Psy 1001]