There’s nothing more gruesome than hearing someone chewing their favorite snack having a loud crunchy sound in every munch. Urgh. Don’t you think it’s impolite? The shivers kept running down my spine just by the thought of it.
Next time you’re getting disgruntled with someone next to you is loudly munching and crunching on their food, don’t fret – it could just be your creative brain.
Many of us are often troubled and distracted by that noise. A research by Northwestern University found that there is a link between creativity and an inability to filter out irrelevant noises. Published in Neuropsychologia, the study looked at the link between creative thinkers and different levels of “sensory gating,” the involuntary neurological process that filters out unnecessary or irrelevant stimuli.
They’ve asked 97 participants to fill out a questionnaire called Creative Achievement Questionnaire, which assessed their real-world achievements in creative domains. They were also asked to perform a divergent thinking test, a technique commonly used in laboratories to assess creative cognition.
In a separate test, the participants were played a series of short beeps while scientists measured their brain activity, recording the involuntary neurophysiological response that occurs 50 milliseconds after an auditory stimulus.
As the researchers analyzed these information, it turns out that creative people were more sensitive to sound distraction.
The study suggested that people with “leaky” sensory gating tended to be more creative as they have an ability to deploy attention over a larger range of stimuli. This increased input can lead to a richer and more nuanced experience, which can also help hone their ability to create associations with distant concepts or ideas.
Since “leaky” sensory gating occurs early in brain control and may enable individuals include ideas that are outside their main focus of attention, a decreased capability to filter the irrelevant factors may lead to creativity in the real world, said Darya Zabelina, lead author of the study, in a statement.
If funneled in the right direction, these sensitivities can make life more rich and meaningful, giving experiences more subtlety,” she added.
With significantly less than 100 participants, obviously, it is a rather modest research to bring on extensive findings from. Additionally, imagination is just a really subjective issue to measure and not necessarily anything a questionnaire can catch. Therefore, if stressed in the man sitting next-to you with blaring headphones, we don’t suggest you begin professing your incredibility to him.