Neuroscience Debunks 'The Right Brain Makes You Creative' Myth

It’s commonly accepted that the creative, artistic crowd is right-brained, while their math-loving counterparts are left-brained. A new study, however, says that it’s not about which side of the brain you use more, but how the two hemispheres interact.

camera Creativity is not determined by brain region, says new study. Pixabay
To understand the study, here’s a little background on how our brains function. Our minds are made of two types of tissue: grey and white matter. Grey matter processes information and helps with things like muscle control and sensory perception, and white carries electrical signals to the other region via axons which act like bundles of wires.

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Using an MRI technique called diffusion tensor imaging, researchers looked at the skulls of 68 healthy, college-age people to trace the paths of axons. Following that, computers converted the scans to three-dimensional maps that served as diagrams showing the brain’s wiring system.

Subjects performed a series of tests to measure creativity, several of which focused on their ability to provide many answers for a question. For example, students were asked to draw as many geometric designs as possible in five minutes and to list as many uses as they could for common objects like paper clips. A creativity score was calculated for each individual and computers looked for differences in the brain.

They found that the most creative had more white matter connections between the right and left hemispheres in the brain’s frontal lobe than the least creative. The most and least creative had scores putting them in the top and bottom 15 percent.

Other than being really interesting, this could help with career counseling and determining whether you’re better suited to be a graphic designer or engineer. “Maybe by scanning a person’s brain we could tell what they’re likely to be good at,” says statistician and study co-author David Dunson of Duke University in a press release.

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Dunson’s team will now focus on determining whether brain connectivity is linked to I.Q. scores. The researchers are also working with others to adapt their methods to better understand Alzheimer’s disease, demention, epilepsy and schizophrenia. 

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