Electrical stimulation of the Brain can stimulate Creativity

Flash of fresh insight by electrical brain stimulation. Are we on the verge of being able to stimulate the brain to see the world anew – an electric thinking cap? Research by Richard Chi and Allan Snyder from the Centre for the Mind at the University of Sydney suggests that this could be the case. They found that participants who received electrical stimulation of the anterior temporal lobes were three times as likely to reach the fresh insight necessary to solve a difficult, unfamiliar problem than those in the control group. The study published in the open-access journal PLoS ONE. According to the authors, our propensity to rigidly apply strategies and insights that have had previous success is a major bottleneck to making creative leaps in solving new problems. There is normally a cognitive tradeoff between the

necessity of being fast at the familiar on one hand and being receptive to novelty on the other. Chi and Snyder argue that we can modulate this tradeoff to our advantage by applying transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), a safe, non-invasive technique that temporarily increases or decreases excitability of populations of neurons. In particular, tDCS can be used to manipulate the competition between the left and right hemisphere by inhibiting and/or disinhibiting certain networks. Their findings are consistent with evidence that the right anterior temporal lobe is associated with insight or novel meaning and that inhibition of the left anterior temporal lobe can induce a cognitive style that is less top-down, less influenced by preconceptions. While further studies involving brain stimulation in combination with neuroimaging are needed to elucidate the exact mechanisms leading to insight, Chi and Snyder can imagine a future when non-invasive brain stimulation is briefly employed for solving problems that have evaded traditional cognitive approaches. About Professor Allan Snyder;  My ultimate goal is to understand the architecture of thought, especially concept formation and its associated unconscious processing. This research has insights from autistic savants who have ‘privileged access’ to lower level, less processed information before it is packaged into holistic labels. Our research attempts to induce unconscious skills with brain (rTMS and tDCS) stimulation, and to enhance creativity. Professor Allan Snyder FRS is the founding Director of the Centre for the Mind and holds the 150th Anniversary Chair of

Science and the Mind at the University of Sydney. He is also the creator of the What Makes a Champion?™ forum, designated an official Olympic Cultural Event for the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympic Games. Professor Snyder is the founding Director of the Centre for the Mind at the University of Sydney.  He is an internationally acclaimed scientist, recognised for groundbreaking discoveries covering the fields of visual neurobiology, communications, optical physics and the mind sciences.  He is presently investigating ways to access unconscious skills, to enhance creative thinking, and to unravel the ingredients of extraordinary success. For his work laying the foundations for today’s worldwide fibre optic telecommunications network, Professor Snyder was awarded the ‘world’s foremost prize in communications and information sciences’ the Marconi Prize in New York city (2001). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of London and the recipient of its 2001 Clifford Paterson Prize for “contributions which benefit mankind.”   His most recent discoveries on creativity and on the mind’s hidden skills have been featured in numerous international documentaries, the New York Times, The Times of London, the BBC and CNN. Newsweek singled him out as one of Australia’s ten most creative minds.Previously, he was a John Guggenheim Fellow at the Yale School of Medicine and a Royal Society Research Fellow at the physiology laboratories of Cambridge University. He is a graduate of Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and University College, London. Media enquiries: Rachel Gleeson.  University of Sydney

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