Being more creative: how your emotions can play a role

  • Posted On
  • 2016-05-01
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  • Bangalore

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A new study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, shows that our emotional expressions affect the brain's creativity network. This makes the working of the brain even more complex than what we thought it was. So the question that arises here is - can our emotions really fuel creativity?

After scanning the brains of jazz pianists, the findings showed that “happy” and “sad” music evoked different neural patterns in their brains. The workings of neural circuits associated with creativity are significantly altered when artists are actively attempting to express emotions, the researchers report.

“The bottom line is that emotion matters. It can't just be a binary situation in which your brain is one way when you're being creative and another way when you're not,” said senior author Charles Limb from University of California-San Francisco. “Instead, there are greater and lesser degrees of creative states, and different versions. And emotion plays a crucially important role in these differences,” he explained.

The team focused on a brain region known as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), which is involved in planning and monitoring behaviour. The researchers found that DLPFC deactivation was significantly greater when the jazz musicians improvised melodies intended to convey the emotion expressed in a "positive" image (a photograph of a woman smiling) than a "negative" image (photo of the same woman in a mildly distressed state). On the other hand, improvisations targeted at expressing the emotion in the negative image were associated with greater activation of the brain's reward regions.

“This indicates there may be different mechanisms for why it's pleasurable to create happy versus sad music,” added first study author Malinda McPherson. For each musician, anybrain activity data generated during these passive viewing periods, including emotional responses, were subtracted from that elicited during their musical performances.

This allowed the researchers to determine which components of brain activity in emotional regions were strongly associated with creating the improvisations. Moreover, Limb said, the research team avoided biasing the musicians' performances with words like "sad" or "happy" when instructing the musicians before the experiments. Through this study, researchers have given a scientific backing to the fact positive emotions boost to creativity as they broaden your mind, while negative emotions narrow one’s focus. Following some simple rules can help you remain calm and relaxed at all time. These can include imagining a positive future, forging deep relationships with your loved ones, mindfulness meditation or daily exercise.


Matter Courtsey: NDTV Food

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