Brainiacs Put on Your Thinking Cap
What if there were a simple device slipped on your head that provided creative powers to leap tall obstacles at a single bound, make you more powerful than a smart phone, and able to bend new concepts with your bare brain?
That Superman potential is still in the future, but the first “creativity cap” has passed preliminary tests with flying ideas.
You receive a mild, safe electrical zap and you’re good to go for about an hour. The idea is based on the observation that accident victims who damage the left side of their brains usually experience a surge of creative problem solving and artistic expression.
The creativity cap emits 10-15 minutes of low electrical pulsations that reduce left temporal lobe activity, which automatically enhances the right temporal lobe. This isn’t the first use of the machine. The technique, known as “transcranial magnetic stimulation,” has some success in treating depression and schizophrenia. This, however, is the first application on “normal” people.
The left side of the brain is your logical, rational, objective self. The right side is more intuitive, holistic, and subjective; it hoards many facts and details that seldom get a chance to see the light of consciousness.
The inventor of the creativity cap, Professor Allan Snyder of the University of Sydney Centre for the Mind, found in early studies that it boosted problem solving in simple math tests that called for creative approaches, allowed more true-to-life drawing of objects from memory, improved proof reading, and enhanced the speed and accuracy of estimating the number of dots in on a screen. A humble, but intriguing beginning.
The inventor’s goal is to suppress the habits and opinions of a lifetime, which act as blinders and inhibitors. By releasing right side energy, the cap may be able to unlock hidden talents and strengths, perhaps giving one the ability of autistic “savants” to master extraordinarily complex subjects (but without permanent suppression of left brain abilities). At the very least, it promises to open up new perspectives and modes of thinking, and stimulate outside-the-box solutions. It could even enable you to see life from a child’s point of view.
A commercial version is on the horizon. It would likely first be marketed as a self-discovery tool or as an inspiration-enhancer for writer’s or artist’s block. With further development, the cerebrum is the limit.
Professor Snyder describes the creativity cap as “the largest cognitive enhancement we are aware of.”