News Release

Does practice make perfect? Or are some people more creative than others? If so, why?

Study finds brain integration correlates with greater creativity in product-development engineers

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Maharishi International University

Creativity may depend on greater brain integration, according to a new study published in Creativity Research Journal (26:2, 239-243) by Maharishi University brain researcher Fred Travis and University West quality management researcher Yvonne Lagrosen.

Scientists refer to brain integration as mind-brain development. People with high mind-brain development are alert, interested in learning new things and disposed to see the whole picture. They think in wide circles and are emotionally stable and unselfish.

"It's a simple fact that some people stand out, and we're trying to tease out why," says Dr. Travis. "We hypothesized that something must be different about the way their brains work, and that's what we're finding."

Dr. Travis uses a measure he developed called a Brain Integration Scale. He uses EEG recording to assess frontal brain wave coherence (a measure of connectedness among the various areas of the brain) and alpha power (a measure of inner directedness of attention). He also assesses the brain's preparation response, which measures how efficiently the brain responds to a stimulus.

In all of his studies so far, top-level performers consistently show higher levels of brain integration. Previous studies by Dr. Travis and colleagues have found that greater brain integration is present in world-class athletes, top managers, and professional musicians.

This current study was conducted on 21 product-development engineers in Sweden — a group that would be expected to have high levels of creativity. Drs. Travis and Lagrosen assessed their level of creativity using standardized Torrance measures and found them to be in the 70th to 90th percentile. They also looked at their levels of brain integration, speed of processing information, speed of executive decision-making, and Sense-of-Coherence.

A canonical correlation analysis of these data yielded strong correlation between higher flexibility and originality in verbal and figural creativity tests and higher levels of brain integration, faster brain processing, faster speed of decision making, and a sense of being in control of one's situation.

"Our empirical findings highlight that creativity, in the form of flexibility and originality, is connected to whole brain functioning and psychological development," says Swedish research collaborator Dr. Lagrosen. "Since creativity is highly important for individual success, optimizing brain functioning should be a priority for every student."

"While there's a common notion that 10,000 hours of practice is necessary for high achievement, some people put in long hours and do not excel," adds Dr. Travis. "This work and other work with my Norwegian collaborator, Dr. Harald Harung, and Dr. Yvonne Lagrosen suggest that brain integration may be the inner factor that leads to outer success."

"This then raises a question," asks Dr. Travis. "Is it possible to increase one's level of brain integration, or is it simply a matter of genes (nature) or a supportive environment (nurture)?"

Regular practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique has been found in random assignment studies to increase levels of brain integration. "People who want to excel in any field should consider learning Transcendental Meditation," says Dr. Travis, "and see for themselves the effect of regular transcending on inner happiness and outer success."

Dr. Frederick Travis is Director of the Center for Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, which specializes in Consciousness-Based Education.

Dr. Yvonne Lagrosen is Associate Professor in Quality Management, Department of Engineering Science at University West in Trollhättan, Sweden, which specializes in Work Integrated Learning. University West helped fund this research.


Citation: Frederick Travis & Yvonne Lagrosen (2014) Creativity and Brain-Functioning in Product Development Engineers: A Canonical Correlation Analysis, Creativity Research Journal, 26:2, 239-243, DOI: 10.1080/10400419.2014.901096.

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