A study published on Monday in the Scientific Reports journal reveals that emotions can influence a musician’s creativity.
When musicians are trying to express their emotions, they usually end up expressing them through music. The study involved jazz pianists, whose brains were scanned. The researchers discovered that when the pianists felt strong emotions, some brain networks that are usually linked to creativity were altered. This comes to show that the brain is much more complex than we could ever imagine.
One of the authors of the study, Dr. Charles Limb from the University of California said that creativity and emotion have a strong link. He also stated that emotions stand behind the creativity that never stopped to amaze in the course of history. Humans often find creative ways of expressing how or why they feel the things they do.
The researchers used musicians for the study because they wanted to see the change that happens in the brain once the emotion kicks in and how did that affect one’s creativity. Creativity uses a lot of areas of the brain, processes and networks and it can’t be explained in the simple terms of activation or deactivation of some regions of the brain.
During the study, when the musicians wanted to express their emotions through music, some parts of the brain that involved emotions were activated. Then these regions influenced the way some networks linked to creativity turned on.
Dr. Limb conducted another study, which concluded that when musicians start improvising, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex deactivates. The DLPFC is the region of the brain that plans and monitors the humans’ behavior. As that region was deactivated, the musicians were able to enter a deep state and become extremely creative. The researchers called that a flow state. One of the reasons why Dr. Limb keeps conducting studies that regard music is because he is also a musician, a jazz saxophonist to be more precise.
This study continues in a way the other study, as the flow state is involved again. The researchers wanted to see how emotions affect the ability of the brain to enter the flow state. The pianists were put in a brain-scan device and were asked to improvise a melody using the two pictures they were shown. The two pictures conveyed a positive and a negative emotion, with the former involving a smiling woman and the later the same woman being a sad. Their brains were scanned while watching the picture and while playing the song. When the musicians tried to improvise a happy melody the deactivation of the DLPFC was significantly increased. When they tried to play a sad song, the reward systems presented an increased activation. The study’s conclusion is that emotions can influence a musician’s creativity but each type of emotion activates different parts of the brain.
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