Bricked creativity


It is said that insight is the movement from the known to the novel.  It’s called divergent thinking, and the scientists have developed a test for it.

You are given a brick – a house brick.  In one minute, how many new uses for that brick can you think of?  Some of the ideas will be a bit mundane (like ‘paper weight’), while others could be very imaginative (like ….)


Bick Garden


At this point, I resorted to a dictionary for a definition.  “Divergent” means to move apart, to head in different and separate directions, to not stick to the recognised pattern.  I’m sure my brick garden would count as an unrecognised pattern!  I planted this garden about six years ago.  It hasn’t grown a house yet.

This post is probably the second last in a short series capturing the key points from a recent documentary that I saw but my Mum missed.  The documentary was Horizon’s “The Creative Brain: How Insight Works”, broadcast recently on SBS.

Divergent thinking occurs in the brain’s white matter.  Our brain’s white matter is less packed and less organised than the grey matter.  Signals travel slower in our white matter.  There are lots of pathways creating more connections.

Creativity is slow and meandering.

OK, this is where it gets a bit tense.  There are slow pathways with lots of opportunities for pieces of unrelated information to connect and trigger insight.  BUT … and I don’t remember if this was mentioned in the documentary … BUT the information has to be in there in the first place.  There isn’t much opportunity for creative insight if someone has locked themselves away.  This doesn’t just apply to people with limited experience.  It also applies to those with highly specialised education.

And I’m back to the overall theme of this blog:  Exploring; building your store of knowledge and experiences from a wide selection of all that life has to offer … while still getting the housework done!


The posts so far in this series:

We started a few posts back with winking.  Creative insight occurs in the right hemisphere of the brain.  Information that enters via the left eye is more likely to trigger activity in the right brain.

Then we looked at the way the right side of the brain works a little differently to the left, with more connections available for information to gather and trigger creative insight.

We then went from winking to blinking.  Brain blinks shut down part of the visual cortex, limiting distractions, so that new ideas have an opportunity to bubble up.

Next?  It turns out, the documentary did suggest adding new and unexpected experiences as a way of boosting creativity.  But why “unexpected”?




2 responses to “Bricked creativity”

  1. ChristineR Avatar

    “But why “unexpected” you asked. You probably know, but I’ll play. 🙂

    I think it is because something you aren’t expecting jolts your brain out of the ‘rut’ it sits in most of the time. A lot of mental effort would be expended if the brain had to actually think about every little action – like breathing, walking, driving the car – so the everyday is consigned to the automated synaptic circuitry section. The unexpected makes the brain say, hey look, wake up, and new territory is opened up for exploration, and sometimes this burst of energy creates new synapses to old memory and idea fragments and combines the new and old knowledge to create new ‘stuff’.

    Not sure that makes sense, but I’ll leave it with you.


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