3 years ago1,000+ Views
Freestyle Rap and Neuroscience
The connection between the creative and the biological--what's in our brains and our nerves-- has been a topic that has drawn the attention of scientists, writers, philosophers and more for hundreds of years. What makes one person creative, while another does better following systems? How can we identify these traits, and then how can we improve them? These are questions that science finds incredibly hard to test and prove: it's like trying to nail Jello to a wall. Still, even with all the thoughts that have been had about creativity from social, psychological, and historical perspectives,, we know next to nothing about the mechanisms, cognitive or neural, that give rise to creativity. We have made some strides, however, in discovering just what these things may mean. A study done in 2012 targeted freestyle rap as a place to begin to study creativity from. Why? Because there is a kind of control that can be identified. When you ask someone to freestyle rap, their mind sets into motion at that point, and you can standardize the bars and beats they must rap to. Then, to compare, you can have someone memorize and perform raps as the "control." While this method is far from foolproof, it gives a condition where a certain kind of creativity can be explored. The study found that in this type of creativity (though they made the mistake of referring to creativity as a whole throughout their findings, which was a bit of a mistake) can be identified to be linked to certain areas of the brain. While engaging in freestyle rap, the medial prefrontal cortex showed increased activity, and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex – DLPFC for short – showed decreased activity. The medial prefrontal cortex (which had increased activity) is known for its association with various aspects of social cognition – self-perception, self-knowledge, moral decisions, etc. The DLPFC (which had decreased activity) has long been known to mediate the so-called higher mental functions: executive attention, working memory, willed action and cognitive control. This phenomenon is called Transient hypofrontality. What this means is that when one is engaging in a less standardized, more "creative," task, the brain lowers the effects of the "higher, controlling" mental functions, and instead allows the free space for creation to exist in the self-expression areas. When one is writing poetry, for instance, a similar effect can occur. Interesting, right? To be creative, it seems, our brains have to allow us to focus less on the higher functions that restrain our minds from creating, and put more power into the areas that are, well, us! Sure, this might seem obvious, but understanding what areas of the brain control this activity might enable us to discover what causes certain problems which then affect creativity: there are so many possibilities!
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So I should rap more to learn to be more creative, or has the study not determined if that will work or not yet?
3 years ago·Reply
This is pretty cool, actually, but I'm always skeptical of studies that try to "make sense" of creativity. I don't think it's something that can be analyzed into numerical form.
3 years ago·Reply
Do we think poetry slams and creative poetry writing on the fly might mimic similar results? I have a feeling the answer might be "yes!"
3 years ago·Reply
@onesmile Hasn't been conclusive! @hikaymm likewise, I am often skeptical of claims that the roots of creativity have been found, but I do think this is an interesting start. @greggr I think it could, and I don't need a real study done to prove it to me!
3 years ago·Reply