Wednesday, April 6

Creativity: as simple as moving your eyes?

As discussed on this blog, boosting the activity of the right hemisphere of the brain can help to kickstart the creative process, and help avoid an over-analytical approach to writing.

In most individuals, the left side of the brain contains the areas responsible for language, while the right side of the brain is better at spatial activities.  The right hemisphere has its own separate consciousness, but is less dominant (Springer and Deutsch, 1989).

It is sometimes suggested that our creativity is 'in' the right hemisphere, but this is an oversimplification - any creative activity benefits from healthy interaction between two sides.  Shobe et al. (2009) have found evidence that boosting the level of interaction between left and right actually made people better at creativity-related tasks.  They used the test of imagining alternative uses for everyday objects (e.g. a brick).  When participants did a simple task to boost communication between brain hemispheres - switching their eyes from side to side for 30 seconds - they showed a greater improvement at the task than a control group (who stared straight ahead).

Another curious aspect to the Shobe et al research was that the eye movement task was only benefitted people with a strong handedness preference.  For example, people who (like me) are right-handed but use their left hand for certain tasks seem to already have a higher level of intercommunication between their brain hemispheres - something to think about before you bring lateral eye movements into your daily writing routine!

Image by obo-bobolin.

Shobe, E.R., Ross, N.M., and Fleck, J.I. (2009). Influence of handedness and bilateral eye movements on creativity. Brain and cognition, 71(3), 204-14.
Springer, S.P. and Deutsch, G. (1989).  Left Brain, Right Brain (3rd ed.)  New York: Freeman and Co.