Creative individuals—like artists, musicians, designers, dancers, and writers—cope with unique physical and metal challenges. They’re required to interpret the world in a different way and create art that speaks to not only their own experiences, but the experiences of those who witness that art. Artists have to push through self-doubt, performance anxiety, creative “dry spells,” and long hours practicing to truly master their craft. While practice and dedication are critical to improving, it’s also important to use training tools that optimize functioning of the neurophysiological processes necessary for such practice, dedication, and other vital skills needed for peak creative expression. Such skills include: focus, attention, motivation, stress management, persistence, self-efficacy, self-awareness, visual and auditory processing, spatial awareness, coordination, balance, problem solving, etc. Thankfully we have a good understanding of how the brain initiates and maintains the successful execution of these skills. This means we can teach the brain how to act in a way that supports creativity and peak artistic performance—setting artists up to be the best versions of themselves!
Creativity doesn’t wait for that perfect moment. It fashions its own perfect moments out of ordinary ones. — Bruce Garrabrandt
related brain activity
While executive functioning and emotional regulation skills are needed by all artists, the areas of the brain that are most engaged during creative expression and formulation are unique to the kind of art practiced. A musician, for example, needs to be attuned to different sounds and pitches, to remember chords, or to properly manipulate their mouths or hands to play an instrument. This means the areas in the brain related to auditory processing, motor coordination, and sensory integration are hard at work. For visual artists, like painters or sculptors, their dominant cortical activity is related to visuo-spatial processing and initiating fine motor movements.
One of the biggest myths of creativity is that it is wholly generated and sustained by the right hemisphere. In reality, we know that artistic expression requires both hemispheres to communicate effectively with each other. In fact, it’s widely believed that novel thinking is the result of brain regions working together that wouldn’t typically do so. We still have lots to learn about the neuroscience of creativity itself, but we can use what we do know about how the brain facilitates the expression of creativity (i.e. music, art, poetry, etc) to support creative performance in general. We also know that creative individuals deal with a great deal of stress and so it’s also important to nurture the body’s ability to manage that stress and stay regulated, even in especially nerve-wracking moments, like performances. Doing so removes some of the barriers creatives experience in trying to hone their talent or progress in their respective fields.
Optimize your creativity
NeuroGrove takes a science-informed, integrative approach to helping you optimize your creative performance. Whether you’re a creative professional trying to be at the top of your game or someone passionate about mastering your craft, we can help you get to a place where you feel innovative, motivated, and confident. At NeuroGrove, the first step of any treatment package is a comprehensive assessment that includes QEEG brain mapping, LORETA 3D neuroimaging, neurocognitive assessment, and a thorough discussion of symptoms and goals. From there, Dr. Bell designs a protocol specific to your brain’s needs and the goals you have for our work together. Neurostimulation and neurofeedback can be used to increase neuroplasticity, address any brain imbalances, enhance the functioning of specific regions, and improve mental clarity and flexibility. We offer both in person and remote neurofeedback services to support you in your goals and optimize your training experience. We can also pair these neurotherapy services with various cognitive and creative exercises aimed at improving memory, focus, creativity, etc. Biofeedback, movement therapy, and mindfulness training are also great tools for gaining more control over emotional regulation and physiological responses like heart rate, breathing, and muscle tension. Furthermore, we will provide extensive education and support to help you provide your brain with the nutrients it needs, reduce neuroinflammation and neurotoxicity, boost the growth of new neurons, and address other factors related to brain wellness. Additionally, we offer a number of other virtual and in-person services to provide a whole-person, whole-system approach, including nutrition and wellness coaching, movement therapies, mindfulness training, psychotherapy, and extensive online education. Whichever services you choose to engage with, we will work collaboratively with you to address your goals from an integrative lens so you can optimize your brain and maximize your potential!
What the research says
Previous studies suggest that creativity is supported when the right prefrontal cortex is activated or the left prefrontal cortex is deactivated. However, recent brain imaging suggests that left frontal activation actually improves creativity. Hertenstein et al. (2019), used transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to modulate cortical activity on both sides to measure the effect on creativity. Participants were asked to perform three creativity related tasks and received either stimulation of the right prefrontal cortex, the left, or a sham protocol. Results suggest that activated the right prefrontal cortex was correlated with greater performance on the creativity measures. This gives us clues into possible treatment protocols to enhance creativity for creative professionals.
- Hertenstein, Elisabeth, et al. “Modulation of Creativity by Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation.” Brain Stimulation, vol. 12, no. 5, Sept. 2019, pp. 1213–21, doi:10.1016/j.brs.2019.06.004.
Twelve music students, violinists, participated in a study by Markovska-Simoska et al. (2008) designed to measure the effects of alpha neurofeedback and EMG biofeedback on musical performance. Participants were divided into two groups: one who received 20 sessions of alpha NFT and EMG biofeedback combined with music practice, and another group who only did music practice. Alpha neurofeedback and EMG biofeedback were associated with increases in alpha power and a decrease in muscle tension. This suggests that this treatment protocol can help with self-regulation and thus enhance musical performance.
- Markovska-Simoska, S., Pop-Jordanova, N., & Georgiev, D. (2008). Simultaneous EEG and EMG biofeedback for peak performance in musicians. Prilozi, 29(1), 239-52.