Zapping Your Brain with Electricity Could Make You More Creative

A new study confirms that zapping your brain with electricity might increase the ability for creative thought.

Small levels of electricity zapping your brain may enhance your ability for creative thought is the conclusion of a new study by Georgetown University scientists.  Georgetown psychology professor Adam Green and Dr. Peter Turkeltaub of Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) used a small amount of electricity to stimulate an area of the brain responsible for creative thinking while giving subjects tasks involving analogical reasoning and verb generation.


“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,” explains Professor Green. “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.”

Targeting the frontopolar cortex by direct current allowed the subjects performing creativity challenges to form more creative analogical connections between sets of words, and to generate more creative word associations.

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

According to the Professor, their findings point to the possibility that zapping the brains of individuals by electrical stimulation can enhance their “natural thinking cap boost in creativity”.

The hope is that one day such technology would be used to treat people with brain disorders, like speech and language difficulties. 

 "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." 

The professors caution people against going out and zapping themselves to become more creative as there is still a lot to be discovered about how the electrical stimulation affects the brain.  

"Any effort to use electric current for stimulating the brain outside the laboratory or clinic could be dangerous and should be strongly discouraged," Green warned.

This news is certainly of the “don’t try this at home until you can build a safe tDCS (Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation) device” variety.  And yet there has already been previous research in this field that has shown similar results.  Most famously, the Australian scientist Allan Snyder made a Creativity Cap that sent electric current (of about 1.5 milliamps) through the brain to aid people cracking math puzzles.  He believes that such a cap allows people to approach the skills of savants, who have been his particular area of research.

See Snyder’s Creativity Cap in action (complete with Morgan Freeman’s narration) here:

There is also a community of Youtubers, who are experimenting on themselves with tDCS stimulation.  Check out what Anthony Lee does to himself:

You can read the study by Georgetown professors here in the Cerebral Cortex journal.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

People who engage in fat-shaming tend to score high in this personality trait

A new study explores how certain personality traits affect individuals' attitudes on obesity in others.

Pixabay
Mind & Brain
  • The study compared personality traits and obesity views among more than 3,000 mothers.
  • The results showed that the personality traits neuroticism and extraversion are linked to more negative views and behaviors related to obesity.
  • People who scored high in conscientiousness are more likely to experience "fat phobia.
Keep reading Show less

The most culturally chauvinist people in Europe? Greeks, new research suggests

Meanwhile, Spaniards are the least likely to say their culture is superior to others.

Image: Pew Research Center
Strange Maps
  • Survey by Pew Research Center shows great variation in chauvinism across Europe.
  • Eight most chauvinist countries are in the east, and include Russia.
  • British much more likely than French (and slightly more likely than Germans) to say their culture is "superior" to others.
Keep reading Show less

Reigning in brutality - how one man's outrage led to the Red Cross and the Geneva Conventions

The history of the Geneva Conventions tells us how the international community draws the line on brutality.

Napoleon III at the Battle of Solferino. Painting by Adolphe Yvon. 1861.
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Henry Dunant's work led to the Red Cross and conventions on treating prisoners humanely.
  • Four Geneva Conventions defined the rules for prisoners of war, torture, naval and medical personnel and more.
  • Amendments to the agreements reflect the modern world but have not been ratified by all countries.
Keep reading Show less