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Study: Electrical brain stimulation enhances creativity

"This work is a departure from traditional research that treats creativity as a static trait," said psychologist Adam Green.

By
Brooks Hays
Electric brain stimulation helped study participants forge more creative connections and word associations when they were presented with verbal cues. Photo by royaltystockphoto/Shutterstock
Electric brain stimulation helped study participants forge more creative connections and word associations when they were presented with verbal cues. Photo by royaltystockphoto/Shutterstock

WASHINGTON, April 14 (UPI) -- In a series of recent tests, team of psychologists and neurologists at Georgetown University showed electric brain stimulation can enhance creativity.

When scientists used Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation, or tDCS, to stimulate a portion of the brain linked with creative thinking, study participants responded more creatively to a series of verbal cues.

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"We found that the individuals who were most able to ramp up activity in a region at the far front of the brain, called the frontopolar cortex, were the ones most able to ramp up the creativity of the connections they formed," Adam Green, a psychology professor at Georgetown, explained in a news release.

"Since ramping up activity in frontopolar cortex appeared to support a natural boost in creative thinking, we predicted that stimulating activity in this brain region would facilitate this boost, allowing people to reach higher creative heights," Green added.

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Participants were able to forge more creative analogical links between word sets and produce more creative associations between words when their frontopolar cortex was stimulated via tDCS.

"This work is a departure from traditional research that treats creativity as a static trait," Green said. "Instead, we focused on creativity as a dynamic state that can change quickly within an individual when they 'put their thinking cap on.'"

Green and his colleagues believe their findings -- detailed in the journal Cerebral Cortex -- could be used to help patients with brain disorders better express themselves.

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"People with speech and language difficulties often can't find or produce the words they need," added Peter Turkeltaub, a cognitive neurologist at Georgetown University Medical Center. "Enhancing creative analogical reasoning might allow them to find alternate ways of expressing their ideas using different words, gestures, or other approaches to convey a similar meaning."

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