In probably one of the grooviest studies that are going to be performed all year, a team of researchers from the University of California studied the brains of jazz pianists and determined that creativity is largely influenced by emotions.
- There are degrees of creative states, as well as types
- There is a difference in brain activity between when the expressed creative message is positive and when it’s negative
- When creativity is being expressed, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) area of the brain gets partially deactivated
- There are different mechanisms involved creating sad music and in creating happy music
- The new study was published in the journal Scientific Reports
The team of scientists from the University of California was responsible for this study, which proves that emotions play a very large part in creativity.
In order to prove this, the team had a bunch of experienced jazz pianists perform while in a functional magnetic resonance imaging machine (fMRI).
The subjects had to perform various musical pieces while the scientists looked at what brain areas were activated or deactivated during the performance.
It was previously known that entering a creative state was tied to the deactivation of a brain area called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex; however it wasn’t known to what extent.
The observers had the subjects look at two pictures and improvise a piece depicting the mood transmitted by the picture. The images were of a smiling woman, and of a woman in a slightly distressful situation.
As it turns out, the deactivation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex was significantly greater when the emotion the performers were trying to convey was positive.
Additionally, the researchers discovered that when attempting to convey a negative emotion, the brain’s reward regions were more activated and connected to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.
Seeing as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is also associated with monitoring and planning behavior, the results actually speak volumes.
Since the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex deactivates when conveying a happy emotion, it would suggest that the artist lets go, gets “in the zone”.
On the other hand, when conveying a negative emotion, the reward centers in the brain are activated, indicating a more selfish and even narcissistic state of mind.
The researchers, musicians themselves, conveyed their slight distress at their attempt at quantifying art, however they still sustained that it was a fascinating glimpse into the human psyche.
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