Want to be more creative? No problem, just take a ball and squeeze it (but only in your left hand, otherwise the consequences are as yet unknown). Dr. Abraham Goldstein (pictured – and who may or may not be squeezing a ball with his left hand) along with colleagues at the Brain Research Center of Bar-Ilan University, Israel, publish their findings in the latest issue of Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.
Following the notion of the “… relative importance of the right hemisphere (RH) in creative thinking” [see proviso below] the team asked 40 right-handed experimental participants to squeeze a ball for 45 seconds whilst engaged in a creative task*. (Note that due to mammalian neural cross-wiring a left hand ball-squeeze “activates” the right brain hemisphere).
“As predicted, participants who contracted their left hand (thus activating the RH) achieved higher scores than those who used their right hand and those who did not contract either hand.”
The specific mechanisms involved in this phenomenon are as yet unknown, but, say the researchers –
“Our findings indicate that tilting the hemispheric balance toward the processing mode of one hemisphere by motor activation can greatly influence the outcome of thought processes.”
But with the enigmatic proviso :
“Unquestionably, creativity does not reside or originate in the RH – or, for that matter, in any particular brain area.”
Link to the full paper : Unilateral muscle contractions enhance creative thinking
* The RAT test (Remote Associates Test). In this widely used test of creative thinking, participants are presented with three words (e.g., tooth, potato, heart) and are asked to produce a solution word (e.g., sweet).