Many of us associate the search for new ideas with a brainstorming session where ideas are swirling around in the room. Another common picture of is seeing someone lying on the grass, walking on the beach, or watching the view from a mountain top while half-dreaming. In contrast, organising a meeting and deciding the agenda often conjures pictures of control.
On the surface, creative thinking and thinking involved in planning could not be more different. Creative thinking is an active search, while the planning and organising things has a calmer and a more pondering character. Yet appearances can be deceptive. Searching for ways to generate new ideas and alternatives benefit from a structured approach. Deciding the next step or approach to a problem or issues can be more fruitful if a creative approach is used.
Do creative people use their brain in a different way? The debate regarding about what goes on in our left and right brain hemispheres seems like a never-ending story. You will find support for the idea that creative people use the right hemisphere while people who are good at organising things are using their left hemisphere. But we can also find support for the idea that creative and non-creative thinking are not two different things.
The creative right brain myth gained support from Roger Sperry’s split-brain experiments in the 1960s. The problem is that the idea originated from a misinterpretation of his research. A recent study using fMRI suggests that even if a person is given a task that is specialised to the right hemisphere, we use the left hemisphere to help us look for creative solutions. So there is support for the idea that the so-called logical part of our brain plays a role in creative thinking. Well, at least if the creative task is visual or musical.
The idea about a left-brain and right brain thinking can be found in newspapers, films, and in school exercises. Even in ads like the one below.
Left brain text:
“I am the left brain. I am a scientist. A mathematician. I love the familiar. I categorize. I am accurate. Linear. Analytical. Strategic. I am practical. Always in control. A master of words and language. Realistic. I calculate equations and play with numbers. I am order. I am logic. I know exactly who I am.”
Right brain text:
“I am the right brain. I am creativity. A free spirit. I am passion. Yearning. Sensuality. I am the sound of roaring laughter. I am taste. The feeling of sand beneath bare feat. I am movement. Vivid colors. I am the urge to paint on an empty canvas. I am boundless imagination. Art. Poetry. I sense. I feel. I am everything I wanted to be.”
You can also find the logo for the company in the ad.
Photo: “Colorful Brain” by smokedsalmon