I recently came across a study on what brain scans reveal about Freestyle Rappers via my lovely nerdy friend Dr Jess.
Now I’m not about to pretend that I know anything about the world of functional MRIs, but what did get me interested was how this is essentially a mapping on creativity and the fluidity of language.
Yes it is a small and subjective study in a very niche area of medicine but it does have fascinating implications for understanding such incredible processes of creativity. Although it is somewhat ironic that in order to study “creativity” we have to structure such uncreative study designs…
In a nutshell the study compares the functional MRI results with those of freestyle rapping (improvisation) and a set of learned rap lyrics.
Using freestyle rap as a means of image mapping the areas of the brain, and connectivity mapping to analyse the complex interplay between the areas of the brain that control coordination, fluency, information processing, intention, multimodal sensory processing, language, rhythm … (the list is as long as it is complex!) what it suggests is
“… the conscious, deliberate, top-down attentional processes mediated by this network may be attenuated during improvisation, consistent with the notion that a state of defocused attention enables the generation of novel, unexpected associations that underlie spontaneous creative activity.”
Whilst sadly proof that not all of us have the gift of the gab on hip-hop karaoke night, let alone freestyle hip hop karaoke night, what’s interesting about the results is the sense that the inherent creative result comes from a non-conscious process of decision making and adjustments.
Perhaps this has implications for our individual creativity and we should just… not think too hard.
As they put it; “…ongoing actions, moment to moment decisions and adjustments in performance may be experienced as having occurred outside of conscious awareness. This is not inconsistent with the experience of many artists who describe the creative process as seemingly guided by an outside agency.”
So next time you’re in a creative pickle – whether it’s writer’s block as a strategist or an ideas rut as a designer – maybe you shouldn’t jump straight to the interwebs for inspiration/the answer and instead embrace your inner Lupe or Dr Dre.
Failing that, the festive season is upon us, so for the on-stage divas amongst us maybe it’s time to make a name for yourself at the Christmas Party?
If you’ve had enough of pre-frontal gyrus’- and made it this far into the post- you deserve to be rewarded and may now gyrus to Will Smith’s (of Fresh Prince Of Bel Air brilliance) casual free-styling… hold out for the FPOBA drop at the end. Probably NSFW but well worth it. Happy Friday Everyone!