For Innovation, Dodge the Prefrontal Police

The Wall Street Journal:

Quick—what can you do with Kleenex? Easy, blow your nose. But what can you do with Kleenex that no one has ever done before? That’s not so easy. Finally a bright idea pops up out of the blue—you could draw a face on it, put a string around the top and make it into a cute little Halloween ghost!

Why is thinking outside of the Kleenex box so hard? A study published in February suggests that our much-lauded prefrontal brain mechanisms for control and focus may actually make it more difficult to think innovatively.

But it’s important to remember that correlation is not causation. How could you prove that the frontal deactivation really did make the improvisers innovate? You’d need to show that if you deactivate those brain areas experimentally people will think more innovatively. Sharon Thompson-Schill at the University of Pennsylvania and colleagues did that in the new study.

Read the whole story: The Wall Street Journal

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