The fact that creativity is almost entirely dependent on your emotions was a somewhat common knowledge in the realm of music or art in general. But now, this concept has gained scientific backing from a study conducted at San Francisco’s University of California.
The neural circuits that get activated while a person is in the act of creating music that specifically portrays their emotions get completely altered, according to the analysis conducted on a number of jazz pianists’ brain scans. When the brain is tasked in activating the regions that convey emotions, the brain’s creativity network gets activated accordingly. The extent in which these creativity circuits are used is also influenced by a great margin by the feelings you want to express.
This study somewhat denies a previous analysis conducted on freestyle rappers and caricature creators that showed how in the process of creating, a specific part of the brain gets shut down. This area is known as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and it has the role of monitoring, planning, and regulating behavior.
Several jazz musicians were asked to play a small keyboard while undergoing an fMRI scan, either while looking at a photo of a smiling woman, thus conveying positive emotions, or a photo of a distressed woman, making them portray a more negative emotion. The amount of DLPC deactivation varied from one photo to the other, with the latter photo making the brain’s reward regions activate more, a factor that in turn reinforced behaviors that had more pleasurable outcomes.
This made the scientists conclude that our creativity is greatly influenced by the emotions we are having at the time of creation. By deactivating the DLPC more while trying to portray a positive emotion, the musicians entered the so-called “zone” or “groove” of the melody, while negative emotions made them specifically want to portray those feelings through their music.
In order to remove bias results, the subjects of the study were left for extended periods of time to view the photo passively, while still being connected to the fMRI scanner. By comparing the two readings, the passive one, and the active one while at the keyboard, scientists were able to discern in a more viable manner what regions of the brain get turned on or off during improvisation.
This is the reason why most songs or paintings seem to portray the feelings of the author and instill emotions within the viewer. Although this differs from individual to individual, according to their point of view as well as the mood they are in while experiencing said work of art, one cannot deny that emotion plays a great role during the creation of music, paintings, sculptures or any other form of art.
Even if the idea of studying the artists’ complex creativity from the point of view of neuroscientific might seem at first glance a bit audacious from certain ethical viewpoints, scientists are becoming more and more comfortable with this concept. Studies focused on this subject may not come with conclusive results, but it nonetheless paves the way towards a better understanding of the human processes that allow us to be creative.
Taking into account the fact that creativity is almost entirely dependent on your emotions, you can now say that the creator of a certain song was sad or angry when he or she wrote the lyrics or the music while being backed by scientific facts.