Will Burns
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Unleash Creativity Blog

Scientific studies that help us unleash our most human attribute: creativity.

To Open Your Mind, Close Your Eyes

Photo by  Richard Jaimes  on  Unsplash

We have reported on this blog that sensory deprivation via flotation therapy increases creativity. And, while compelling, it takes a half day to do. You have to find a spa that has flotation pods, you have to make an appointment, you have to drive there, do it for an hour, etc. Well, what if I told you that you could just close your eyes instead?

The study.

The study was conducted by Radboud University, Nijmegen, Netherlands. Previous studies have correlated creativity with alpha waves through EEG technology, indicating that when a subject is experiencing alpha patterns in the brain the he or she is paying attention to internal mental processes.

But to date there has been no direct evidence that attention directed internally increases creativity. Until now.

The methodology was simple and elegant. Thirty-eight subjects were recruited and each were given a series of auditory divergent-thinking (creativity) tests. One involved word associations, another around alternative uses of everyday objects, another involving a word scramble.

As the subjects moved through the various tests they were asked to close their eyes and open them in an alternating fashion, from one test to the next.

The results were eye opening.

The subjects performed significantly better on the divergent thinking tests when their eyes were closed. Proof that eliminating external stimuli facilitates the internal mental processes necessary for creativity.

Alpha waves, baby!

Interestingly, the study also tested eyes closed/open against a series of working memory tasks, but there was no real difference.

So next time you need to open your mind, just close your eyes.