Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

What happens when the lightbulb turns on? Measuring a person's creativity from single spoken words

Date:
October 30, 2013
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
Neuroscientists have created a quick but reliable test that can measure a person's creativity from single spoken words. The "noun-verb" test is so simple it can be done by virtually anyone anywhere -- even in an MRI machine, setting the stage for scientists to pinpoint how the brain comes up with unusually creative ideas. While some believe ingenuity is spontaneous, the researchers suspect there's a lot of hard work going on in the brain even when the proverbial light bulb turning on feels effortless.

While some believe creativity is spontaneous, Michigan State University neuroscientist Jeremy Gray suspects there’s a lot of hard work going on in the brain even when the proverbial light bulb turning on feels effortless.
Credit: Image courtesy of Michigan State University

A team of researchers led by a Michigan State University neuroscientist has created a quick but reliable test that can measure a person's creativity from single spoken words.

The "noun-verb" test is so simple it can be done by virtually anyone anywhere -- even in an MRI machine, setting the stage for scientists to pinpoint how the brain comes up with unusually creative ideas.

While some believe ingenuity is spontaneous, MSU neuroscientist Jeremy Gray suspects there's a lot of hard work going on in the brain even when the proverbial light bulb turning on feels effortless. The findings from his latest research are published in the journal Behavior Research Methods.

"We want to understand what makes creativity tick, what the specific processes are in the brain," Gray said. "Innovation doesn't just come for free -- nobody learns their ABCs in kindergarten and suddenly writes a great novel or poem, for example. People need to master their craft before they can start to be creative in interesting ways."

For his latest research, 193 participants were shown a series of nouns and instructed to respond creatively with a verb in each case. The test took about two minutes.

For the noun "chair," for example, instead of answering with the standard verb "sit," a participant might answer "stand," as in to stand on a chair to change a light bulb. The researchers checked that the answers were in fact verbs and somehow related to the noun; excluding the few nonsensical responses made no difference to the results.

The participants also were measured for creativity through a series of more in-depth methods including story writing, drawing and their creative achievements in real life.

The results: Those who gave creative answers in the noun-verb test were indeed the most creative as measured by the more in-depth methods. This suggests the noun-verb test, or a future variation, could be successful by itself in measuring creativity.

Currently, Gray and his team are having participants complete the noun-verb test in an MRI while their brain activity is recorded, in hopes of identifying parts of the brain responsible for creativity. This test is more feasible in an MRI than, say, writing stories or drawing pictures since the machine requires people to remain virtually still.

Although much more research is needed, the findings eventually could help students, entrepreneurs, scientists and others who depend on innovative thinking.

"Ultimately, this work could allow us to create better educational and training programs to help people foster their creativity," Gray said.

The research also could be helpful in settings where selecting creative people is important, such as the human resources office, he said.

Gray is an associate professor of psychology in MSU's Department of Psychology and Neuroscience Program.

Gray's co-researchers are Ranjani Prabhakaran from the National Institute of Mental Health and Adam Green from Georgetown University.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ranjani Prabhakaran, Adam E. Green, Jeremy R. Gray. Thin slices of creativity: Using single-word utterances to assess creative cognition. Behavior Research Methods, 2013; DOI: 10.3758/s13428-013-0401-7

Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "What happens when the lightbulb turns on? Measuring a person's creativity from single spoken words." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131030093152.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2013, October 30). What happens when the lightbulb turns on? Measuring a person's creativity from single spoken words. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131030093152.htm
Michigan State University. "What happens when the lightbulb turns on? Measuring a person's creativity from single spoken words." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131030093152.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Newsy (July 23, 2014) An 8-year-old boy helped his younger brother, who has a rare genetic condition that's confined him to a wheelchair, finish a triathlon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The new sci-fi thriller "Lucy" is making people question whether we really use all our brainpower. But, as scientists have insisted for years, we do. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do Obese Women Have 'Food Learning Impairment'?

Do Obese Women Have 'Food Learning Impairment'?

Newsy (July 18, 2014) Yale researchers tested 135 men and women, and it was only obese women who were deemed to have "impaired associative learning." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins