How’s this for mad science: Within the next 15 years, people could elect to have their brains “zapped” to boost creativity in the workplace or classroom.
The process — based on 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 looked at blood flow as a measure of brain cell activity when people were doing creative tasks. The process pointed them to one region of the brain in particular (the frontopolar cortex), so they decided to test whether stimulating the area could make creative thinking easier.
“We zap people’s brains in a targeted way based on these fMRI studies,” Green says. The researchers hope to make creative neuroscience more available to the general public down the line.
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.
1. Exercise your creativity like a muscle.
One surefire way to boost creative thinking: Try. No, really! “Creativity isn’t made out of a magical fairy part of the brain,” Green says. “It’s essentially using all the same tools that go into doing everything else … but applying those tools in creativity-specific ways.”
Research shows that when people try to think more creatively, they almost always can — and those effects are both significant and repeatable. Green points to an “age-old adage” in neuroscience that “cells that fire together, wire together.” The idea is that the more you use your brain to do something, the stronger the connections between the cells involved become.
Try implementing this in your everyday routine by dedicating specific time to think creatively — and reminding yourself to do so before any brainstorming session.