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Whatever the case, the results suggest that people may want to listen to happy music while they work—particularly if they need to come up with new ways of looking at a particular problem. Jill Suttie, Psy. Become a subscribing member today. About the Author.


  • Secrets of the Creative Brain;
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  • Mapping the brain during creative thinking!

Jill Suttie Jill Suttie, Psy. This article — and everything on this site — is funded by readers like you. So what does a creative approach to studying look like day-to-day?

Professor Jarosz, defend your research.

Well, that depends on the type of work. In general, the creative approach is best when you need to create new information, devise a novel solution, or retain a large number of complex facts. For instance, creative thinking is highly valuable when working on a math problem without a straightforward solution or multiple solutions. Additionally, creative approaches are very powerful for memorizing large volumes of information. Specific methods include mnemonics and the method of loci.

My Desk: 12 Creative Study Techniques (That Work!)

But mnemonics can also include stories and bizarre images. As you can imagine, mnemonics are useful in dozens of fields. With the right amount of creativity, you can devise a mnemonic to help you remember almost anything. Sometimes, though, you need to remember an absolutely absurd amount of information. Think all the muscles in the human body or the capital cities of every country in the world.

If this is the case, then the method of loci may be the approach you need. Technically, the method of loci is a mnemonic device. It just takes things a bit further than your standard verbal mnemonics. Within each locus, you then imagine ordinary objects and associate them with the information you need to remember.

Creative Writing (MA) — Birkbeck, University of London

Taking our example of the capital cities of every country in the world, you would first need to decide how to divide the countries to correspond with the locations in your environment. The details will depend on your situation, but I might, for instance, decide that each room in my house is a geographic region or continent. From there, I could associate the country and capital with specific objects. So my kitchen might represent Eastern Europe, and within that I might associate Budapest, Hungary, with my kitchen sink.

All throughout, this process requires large amounts of creative thinking. Consider how superior this process is to just rote memorization or even to flash card techniques. As I said in the beginning of the article, creativity is a skill that you can learn and practice.

But how exactly do you practice it? In addition, these are all great stress relievers and many of them can help you make new friends. And these are just a few ideas to get you started. But the benefits of creativity both in college and beyond are undeniable. Psychology and neuroscience researchers have started to identify thinking processes and brain regions involved with creativity. Despite this progress, the answer to one question has remained particularly elusive: What makes some people more creative than others? As they completed the test, they underwent fMRI scans, which measures blood flow to parts of the brain.

For example, in the study, we showed participants different objects on a screen, such as a gum wrapper or a sock, and asked to come up with creative ways to use them.

Employability and Creative Studies and Media degrees

Some ideas were more creative than others. For the sock, one participant suggested using it to warm your feet — the common use for a sock — while another participant suggested using it as a water filtration system. Importantly, we found that people who did better on this task also tended to report having more creative hobbies and achievements, which is consistent with previous studies showing that the task measures general creative thinking ability.

After participants completed these creative thinking tasks in the fMRI, we measured functional connectivity between all brain regions — how much activity in one region correlated with activity in another region. We also ranked their ideas for originality: Common uses received lower scores using a sock to warm your feet , while uncommon uses received higher scores using a sock as a water filtration system.

Having defined the network, we wanted to see if someone with stronger connections in this high-creative network would score well on the tasks.


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  7. The models revealed a significant correlation between the predicted and observed creativity scores. We further tested whether we could predict creative thinking ability in three new samples of participants whose brain data were not used in building the network model. The default network is a set of brain regions that activate when people are engaged in spontaneous thinking, such as mind-wandering, daydreaming and imagining.