Is Creative Genius Driven By Distraction?

March 5th, 2015

Creativity depends upon perceiving associations between disparate ideas. An overly-controlled work environment can fail to stimulate your imagination and wilder thinking. Neuroscientists have recently found that noisy environments can promote high-level creativity. Is (some) distraction vital for creative thinking? 

The enemies of creativity are rigid beliefs; narrow-minded reasoning; tunnel vision caused by stress and fatigue; lack of curiosity, and working in a vacuum without fresh mental input and stimulation.

In Can’t focus? Maybe you’re a creative genius., Pulitzer prize winning journalist Amy Nutt Wilson reports for The Washington Post on how neuropsychologists at Northwestern have discovered a relationship between so-called “leaky sensory gating” (an inability to ignore external stimuli) and creative insight:

“Leaky” sensory gating, the propensity to filter out “irrelevant” sensory information, happens early, and involuntarily, in brain processing and may help people integrate ideas that are outside of the focus of attention, leading to creativity in the real world, said Darya Zabelina, lead author of the study, calling the finding “impressive.”