Skip to main content

Time to put on the thinking cap

According to the news (thanks to Ian C for pointing this out), Australian scientists are working on a 'thinking cap' that would help stimulate creative thought. The idea is to use electrical impulses to stimulate the right side of the brain and suppress the left, enabling more creative thought to take place.

Now, for a good number of years I've been helping people be more creative about problem solving and idea generation through Creativity Unleashed. And, yes, we do discuss the two sides of the brain. But the simplistic view portrayed in this story (which to be fair, could be the fault of the news media, rather than the Australian researchers), is really not good enough.

Firstly, although the brain does have two modes of operation that are labelled left brain and right brain, as illustrated in the rather pretty slide from one of my talks (it's either a brain or an enormous walnut), the left/right labels are now rather out of date. A fair amount of 'left brain' activity takes places in the right hand half of the brain and vice versa.

And secondly, it's a mistake to think that creativity is all about right brain (as conventionally labelled) activity. Most people do need to push up the right brain side when trying to be creative in a business context, because the natural tendency when doing business is to use a left brain style - but a lot of creativity in the artistic context has too much right brain and not enough left. What's more, even the business creative process needs both. Typically business creativity involves a sequences of activities, where you might need more right brain (say when generating ideas) or more left brain (when structuring and assessing ideas). Without doubt you need both, and the artificial example of solving a puzzle is really no help when looking at real creativity. Sorry guys, you are working on a myth.

Hey, I managed to get through a whole post on 14 February without mentioning Valentine's Day! Damn.


Popular posts from this blog

Why I hate opera

If I'm honest, the title of this post is an exaggeration to make a point. I don't really hate opera. There are a couple of operas - notably Monteverdi's Incoranazione di Poppea and Purcell's Dido & Aeneas - that I quite like. But what I do find truly sickening is the reverence with which opera is treated, as if it were some particularly great art form. Nowhere was this more obvious than in ITV's recent gut-wrenchingly awful series Pop Star to Opera Star , where the likes of Alan Tichmarsh treated the real opera singers as if they were fragile pieces on Antiques Roadshow, and the music as if it were a gift of the gods. In my opinion - and I know not everyone agrees - opera is: Mediocre music Melodramatic plots Amateurishly hammy acting A forced and unpleasant singing style Ridiculously over-supported by public funds I won't even bother to go into any detail on the plots and the acting - this is just self-evident. But the other aspects need some ex

Is 5x3 the same as 3x5?

The Internet has gone mildly bonkers over a child in America who was marked down in a test because when asked to work out 5x3 by repeated addition he/she used 5+5+5 instead of 3+3+3+3+3. Those who support the teacher say that 5x3 means 'five lots of 3' where the complainants say that 'times' is commutative (reversible) so the distinction is meaningless as 5x3 and 3x5 are indistinguishable. It's certainly true that not all mathematical operations are commutative. I think we are all comfortable that 5-3 is not the same as 3-5.  However. This not true of multiplication (of numbers). And so if there is to be any distinction, it has to be in the use of English to interpret the 'x' sign. Unfortunately, even here there is no logical way of coming up with a definitive answer. I suspect most primary school teachers would expands 'times' as 'lots of' as mentioned above. So we get 5 x 3 as '5 lots of 3'. Unfortunately that only wor

Which idiot came up with percentage-based gradient signs

Rant warning: the contents of this post could sound like something produced by UKIP. I wish to make it clear that I do not in any way support or endorse that political party. In fact it gives me the creeps. Once upon a time, the signs for a steep hill on British roads displayed the gradient in a simple, easy-to-understand form. If the hill went up, say, one yard for every three yards forward it said '1 in 3'. Then some bureaucrat came along and decided that it would be a good idea to state the slope as a percentage. So now the sign for (say) a 1 in 10 slope says 10% (I think). That 'I think' is because the percentage-based slope is so unnatural. There are two ways we conventionally measure slopes. Either on X/Y coordiates (as in 1 in 4) or using degrees - say at a 15° angle. We don't measure them in percentages. It's easy to visualize a 1 in 3 slope, or a 30 degree angle. Much less obvious what a 33.333 recurring percent slope is. And what's a 100% slope