The human brain needs to suppress obvious ideas in order to reach the most creative ones, according to scientists. These obvious associations are present in both convergent thinking (finding an ‘out-of-the-box’ solution) and also in divergent thinking (when individuals have to come up with several creative ideas).
Previous studies show that some people are more creative than others because they are able to avoid strong associations in order to reach more remote ones and this study demonstrates that the alpha brainwaves are crucially involved in this process. Higher levels of alpha brainwaves enable people to come up with ideas which are further away from the obvious or well-known uses.
Goldsmiths, University of London’s Professor Joydeep Bhattacharya, a co-author of this study, added: “Two roads diverged in a wood, I took the one less travelled by. And that has made all the difference,’ wrote Robert Frost in his famous poem. Taking a less travelled route is needed for thinking creatively, and our findings provide some evidence on how this is done in our brain.”