How’s this for mad science: Within the subsequent 15 years, people could elect to possess their brains “zapped” to spice up creativity within the workplace or classroom.
The process — supported functional MRI studies — is headed up by Adam Green, director of the Georgetown Laboratory for Relational Cognition and president-elect of the Society for the Neuroscience of Creativity. Green’s team checked out blood flow as a measure of nerve cell activity when people were doing creative tasks. the method pointed them to at least one region of the brain especially (the frontopolar cortex), in order that they decided to check whether stimulating the world could make creativity easier.
“We zap people’s brains during a targeted way supported these fMRI studies,” Green says. The researchers hope to form creative neuroscience more available to the overall public down the road.
If you don’t have a brain-stimulation tool and are looking to think outside the box, good news: We’ve got research-backed tips for upping your creativity outside the lab. Here’s how.
- Like a muscle, exercise your imagination.
To improve innovative thinking, one surefire way: Try. No, really! No, no! Green says, “Creativity is not made out of a magical fairy part of the brain.” “It’s essentially using all the same instruments that go into doing everything else… but in creativity-specific ways applying those tools.”
Research shows that they will almost always be able to think more creatively when people try, and those results are both important and repeatable. In neuroscience, Green points to a “age-old adage” that “cells that fire together, wire together.” The premise is that the more you use your brain to do something, the stronger the bonds become between the cells involved. But the secret to this is to devote more time to consciously thinking in your day, which basically means unplugging from email, social media and more. Maggie Jackson, author of Distracted: Reclaiming Our Concentration in a World of Lost Attention at The Atlantic’s “Humanity + Tech” conference at MIT on Sept. 5, 2018, said that’s the way to unlock “the digressive, slow, uncertain parts of ourselves that are key to our creativity,”
In your daily routine, try to incorporate this concept by avoiding taking your phone to bed or to the bathroom. Turning off notification settings for social media applications and e-mail is also a smart idea. Consider devoting specific time to creative thinking in your day—and remind yourself before every brainstorming session to do so.
- Change up your surroundings — even minimally.
“The best trick i do know isn’t very sexy,” Green says. Data support that creativity “nudges” can come from changes as small as a hotter cup of coffee or different colors within the room. Try switching out a number of the things on your desk, orienting yourself differently or doing an overhaul of the bulletin board you sit facing. Know that those “nudges” don’t only pertain to your physical surroundings — they’re also connected to your social setting.
Take advantage of opportunities to periodically add different areas of the office, sit with new colleagues or invite people from different departments to lunch. Although you would possibly not have much control over your work environment, making any possible adjustments could translate to a big creativity boost.
“You want your physical and social surroundings to vary,” says Robert Epstein, senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology. “If it’s an equivalent old stuff on the walls and your desk — and therefore the same people you’re lecture — that’s not necessarily good for creativity.”
- With what you hear, go out on a limb.
When did you hear anything about medieval architecture for the last time? History of Ancient Egypt? In the wild, edible herbs? It might now be time to take an in-person course or dive into a rabbit hole on the internet. Research shows that extending your understanding across unfamiliar subjects promotes new concepts and divergent thought.
Epstein, who uses an exercise called “the expert game” to prove this, says, “New ideas come from interconnections between old ideas.” In it, a few individuals give five-minute lectures in a group with comprehensive knowledge of an obscure subject. Then everyone comes up with at least three ideas for new products or services after learning about topics such as how shoes are built or the past of Rolex watches.
“What people will come up with is really mind-boggling, and that’s based on 15 minutes of instruction they have just received,” Epstein says. You can DIY this method by asking friends or colleagues in various industries about what they do—or signing up for a course through sites such as Khan Academy, Coursera or Vast Open Online Courses on something entirely unknown to you (MOOC).
There’s a fair chance that it won’t be instantly obvious how what you’re studying will be beneficial in the future, so when you’re confronted with a certain problem or brainstorming ideas later on, the pieces of information you’re gaining should naturally fall together. “The more the pieces are interesting and diverse, the more the interconnections are interesting,” Epstein says.
- Concentrate to — and record — new ideas that come to you.
As people age, the number of creative ideas that come to them doesn’t necessarily slow, but they have a tendency to capture fewer of them. When a thought — or a little component of a thought — involves you, start making it some extent to preserve it. Jot it down during a smartphone note, write it during a pocket-sized notebook you carry around or sketch it on a napkin. “Capture now, evaluate later,” says Epstein, who says his research has shown over and once again that capturing your new ideas is probably going the foremost valuable aspect of boosting creativity.
- Challenge yourself in new ways — especially when it involves overarching issues in your industry.
If you’ve ever tried an “escape room” — a physical adventure game where players complete goals by solving puzzles — your creativity probably spiked. That’s because challenges act as a catalyst for us to think creatively and are available up with simultaneous ideas or solutions. for instance, if you switch a knob and determine a door is locked, you start to automatically brainstorm ideas and solutions — jiggling the knob, pounding on the door, trying your luck with a hairgrip.
You can stimulate yourself similarly at work by setting a deadline for a task or taking over an “ultimate challenge” in your industry, Epstein says. believe the overarching issues and questions in your field (How do I end world hunger in one week? How am I able to invent a phone that doesn’t require a charger?) and practice brainstorming open-ended solutions.