In a new study linking creative problem-solving to heightened activity in the cerebellum, Researchers at Stanford University studied participants' brains while they attempted to draw pictorial representations of words (a la a game of Pictionary).They found that when subjects "shift[ed] the brain's higher-level, executive-control centers into higher gear" - activating the left pre-frontal cortex - their drawings were less creative.
"We found that activation of the parts of the brain that enable you to plan, organize and manage your activities is negatively associated with creative task performance," said the study's senior author Allan Reiss. 

"Creativity is an incredibly valued human attribute in every single human endeavor, be it work or play," he continued. "In art, science and business, creativity is the engine that drives progress. As a practicing psychiatrist, I even see its importance to interpersonal relationships. People who can think creatively and flexibly frequently have the best outcomes."
When we teach improv, we stress that the point is not to try to be funny.The best, most creative scenes evolve organically through listening and responding honestly to your scene partner, not from trying really hard to be creative all on your own. "Getting out of your head" is a common phrase employed in improv, meaning "stop thinking so hard about what you're going to do, and instead be present in what you're doing." This is essential for group communication and collaboration.
"As our study also shows, sometimes a deliberate attempt to be creative may not be the best way to optimize your creativity. While greater effort to produce creative outcomes involves more activity of executive-control regions, you actually may have to reduce activity in those regions in order to achieve creative outcomes."
The study's lead author, Manish Saggar, put it more bluntly: "The more you think about it, the more you mess it up." So in the words of UCB's motto: Don't think!

improv creativity ucbworkplace improv for business professional development brain research

Related Media