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Practice Does not Make Perfect: Some Brains are more Creative than others

Update Date: Jun 04, 2014 09:17 AM EDT
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The phrase "practice makes perfect" is often used to encourage people to improve upon their own skills by striving for perfection. In a new study, researchers examined the veracity behind this statement in terms of one's creativity. They found that creativity is dependent on greater brain integration, which people cannot perfect.

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

For this study, Dr. Travis and University West quality management researcher Yvonne Lagrosen defined brain integration as mind-brain development. People with higher levels of brain integration tend to be more alert and are more interested in learning new things. In order to measure mind-brain development, the research team created a Brain Integration Scale. They recruited 21 people who were product-development engineers based in Sweden.

The researchers measured the participants' frontal brain wave coherence and alpha power by using an EEG (electroencephalography). Frontal brain wave coherence measures how connected different regions of the brain are and alpha power measures the inner directedness of attention. The team also measured the participants' brain preparation response, which examines how efficiently the brain reacts to a stimulus.

The team found that the participants fell in the 70th to 90th percentile in terms of creativity. The researchers discovered that people who exhibited more flexibility or originality on verbal and figural creativity tests also had higher levels of brain integration and Sense-of-Coherence. These people also process information and made executive decisions at a much faster speed.

"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."

The study was published in Creativity Research Journal.

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