A friend recently shared an article from Prime Number Magazine by entomologist and author Elizabeth Bernays entitled “Your Brain Knows More than You Do.” It’s a piece that merges the familiar theory behind exercises like “timed” and “automatic” writing that are often used at writing workshops to subvert the stubborn self-editing process with current brain research into “eureka” moments. Neurobiologists are closing in on the physiology of aha:
According to the neurobiologists at work on this problem, there has first to be some focus on the issue, allowing new associations to get to work. Then there has to be some relaxation in the cortex, letting the more remote ideas in the right cortex provide new insight, and allowing the brain to become more receptive to new and unusual ideas. In fact, such relaxation can be monitored by its own type of brain wave, and it is possible to predict which subjects will come up with a new insight by examining which of them is indulging in the appropriate relaxation of focused thoughts.
Focus followed by relaxation–not a new concept among creative types–but finally for those folks that need convincing, a definitive reason to take that walk, soak in a soothing bath or enjoy yourself. Step away from that project and give your cortex permission to relax!
Photo credit: wcizmowski from morguefile.com