Date Published: 4 August 2005

Bristol University brain research investigates creativity using MRI scanner

Health News from Bristol, England (UK).

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Brain scanning has confirmed that a strategy for increasing personal creativity (specifically, creating stories from a small set of completely unrelated words) encourages greater activity in an area of the brain associated with creative effort.

On 2nd August 2005, Bristol University announced the results of a recent research project concerning brain activity. This is of general interest to students of the human body, including therapists, trainee therapists, and other practitioners. It's implications are also interesting to others in the fields of education and personal development.

Dr Paul Howard-Jones, from the university's Graduate School of Education, scanned the brains of drama students as they created stories from sets of words.

The eight students were asked to make up a story based on three words that appeared on a computer screen. Some words were related, others were unrelated.

The purpose of the research was to test a theory that random association helps to promote increases in the brain's creative abilities.

Dr Howard-Jones said:

" When the words were unrelated, the creativity of their stories increased and additional activity was produced in the right frontal medial gyrus.
_This suggests extra higher level control, presumably due to extended filtering of the many and varied ways in which the words can be sensibly combined

Apart from the medical information this study provides about the way the brain works - such as specifically where and how it is active during specific mental processes, the study also has practical use as it demonstrates the success of this particular strategy for developing creativity.

"This is important from an educational point of view because it means these strategies are more likely to promote real increases in creative ability over the longer term."
Dr Paul Howard-Jones

Source: Bristol University, England (UK)

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