Creativity is an area of personal excellence, mental giftedness, and mental mastery. It is of profound importance culturally, figuring as a principle component
of international competitiveness and economic success for countries and individuals. In the business world, creativity is money in the bank. Enhancing the creativity of product development teams and workgroups leads to real bottom-line benefits.
4.3.1 Creativity Takes Root in Childhood
When we were children, we were naturally creative. We explore this new world we’ve entered in highly creative ways, each new move an exercise in problem-solving. In
childhood, we are at the beginning of a lifelong process of inventing ourselves by learning to use language, learning to walk and explore our world, and figuring out how to relate and interact with other humans. ‘The kernel of creativity,’ says psychologist Teresa Amabile, ‘is there in the infant:
The desire and drive to explore, find out about things, try things out, experiment with different ways of handling things, and look at things. As they
grow older, children begin to create entire universes of reality in their play.’ As children, we were curious and spontaneous, naturally embracing zany, bizarre, and
illogical notions. Our waking reality was open to fresh perceptions and wild ideas. Creativity was a natural state – so what happened? It’s conditioned out of us, both in the home and school environment. According to Amabile, creativity is killed by:
Surveillance: Hovering over kids, making them feel that they’re constantly being watched while they’re working.
Evaluation: Making kids worry about how others judge what they are doing. Kids should be concerned primarily with how satisfied they – and not others – are with their accomplishments.
Competition: Putting kids in a win/lose situation, where only one person can come out on top.
Over control: Telling kids exactly how to do things, leaving them feeling that any exploration is a waste of time.
Pressure: Establishing grandiose expectations for a child’s performance or instilling unrealistic training regimens can make the child hate the activity or subject.
Time Restriction: Children are naturally able to enter the ultimate state of creativity we call ‘flow’ where time does not matter. They need to be able to follow their natural inclinations and explorations. Still, too often, we schedule them, hurry them, and pull them away from their deep concentration on, and absorption into, the subject at hand.
4.3.2 More Secrets from Dr. NakaMats
Dr. NakaMats, whose ‘Brain Bubbles’ technique was mentioned in Chapter One, also uses his home’s physical environment to enhance his creativity and problem-solving ability.
The first stage of his creative process takes place in his meditation or ‘static’ room. He says: ‘When developing ideas, the first rule is you have to be calm.’ This room has a Zen character with plants, rocks, and running water, all of which create a sense of peacefulness and alpha waves. In this room, he lets his mind free-associate, churning over ideas at random, just spitting out whatever comes to his mind. He describes this as, ‘My time to let my mind be free!’
Then he moves to his ‘dynamic’ room, which is, ‘. . . dark, with black-and-white-striped walls, leather furniture, and special audio and video equipment.’ Here he
listens to his favorite jazz music, moves to easy listening, and ..always ends with Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. For me, Beethoven’s Fifth is good music for conclusions.
Finally, the swimming pool. Dr. NakaMats dives in and anchors himself on the bottom of the pool, and using a special plexiglass slate he invented for writing underwater; he brainstorms for ideas. This is how he generates so many amazing inventions and new products. ‘That’s when I come up with my best ideas. I’ve created
a Plexiglas writing pad so that I can stay underwater and record these ideas. I call it “creative swimming.”
4.3.3 Creativity is a Matter of Having the Right Brain Waves
Alpha brain waves are intimately involved in creativity. Scientists have shown that highly creative people have different brain waves from normal and non-creative people. Creative people seem to know how to generate big bursts of alpha waves when faced with a creative problem-solving opportunity. To have creative inspiration, your brain needs to generate a big burst of alpha brain waves. The brains of creative people can generate these big alpha brain wave bursts, and they do so very quickly when they are faced with problems to solve. Normal and non-creative people do not produce extra alpha brain waves when faced with problems, so they cannot come up with creative ideas and solutions. You know your brain just produced
more alpha waves than usual whenever you have an insight or an inspiration. Increased creativity is helpful for everyone, and one way to increase creativity is to increase alpha brain waves.
Some excellent early research on the relationship between creativity and alpha brain waves was done in the mid-1980s by Collin Martindale, who found that the alpha response of creative people to problem-solving situations differs dramatically from the brain response of normal people who are not highly creative. Normal people do not seem to change their brain waves to have more alpha, even when that is what is needed in a problem solving or novel situation. On the other hand,
creative people have a natural ability to dramatically increase their alpha brain waves when they encounter a problem to solve. Martindale declares: ‘Creativity is a
matter of having the right brain waves. When creative people go to work on an imaginative task, their alpha jumps . . . ’
4.3.4 Creativity and the Alpha State
Early studies in the 70s and 80s by Martindale and his associates provided clues for me to follow in my own research. He demonstrated that highly creative subjects differ from normal subjects in EEG alpha activity. When told to rest (baselines), the minds of creative subjects remained activated, so they actually showed less alpha than non-creative subjects, who relaxed and deactivated at rest. However, when given creative problems to solve, creative subjects shifted into high alpha to quickly and creatively solve the problems. Non-creative subjects made no upward shift in alpha and actually decreased their alpha if they concentrated on the problem to be solved. Non-creative subjects blocked alpha on all types of cognitive tasks. Still, creative subjects blocked only on tasks not allowing for creativity and actually increased alpha during tasks calling for or allowing creativity. Creative subjects showed higher alpha during the inspiration phase of the creative process than during the following elaboration phase.
During creative performance tasks, creative righthanded subjects showed increases in left hemisphere alpha. Non-creative right-handed subjects did not show this shift to left hemisphere alpha during these creative performance tasks. Intriguingly, this increase of left-brain alpha is also reported by Allman before peak performance
in golfers putting, archers and gunners shooting, and basketball players at the free throw.
4.3.5 Creativity Increases in Scientists Through Alpha EEG Feedback Training
So the question arose, does Alpha EEG feedback training improve creative performance? Sadly Martindale’s alpha feedback studies could not provide useful answers to this question because of serious methodological flaws. Despite his wonderful early work showing a strong relationship between naturally occurring alpha and creativity, Martindale’s feedback studies went nowhere. The reasons were the same ones that undermined so many other scientists who wanted to study alpha feedback training: Ignorance of the Natural Reactivity of Alpha,- which requires being familiar with the more than 50 years of research on the psychophysics of alpha that was conducted between 1908, when Dr. Hans Berger discovered alpha waves, and 1962 when Dr. Joe Kamiya discovered that people could learn to control their alpha waves voluntarily. Since I had read all that literature multiple times while I was in college, it was a lot easier for me to design effective training programs and effective technology. Poor Dr. Martindale used highly ineffective feedback equipment and then gave his hapless trainees only 800 seconds of alpha feedback training. This is a totally inadequate amount of training time, so Dr. Martindale shot himself in the foot with bad equipment and worse experimental design. As a result, his promising early research into the connection between alpha waves and creativity went nowhere and was eventually abandoned.
Fortunately, I had read Dr. Martindale’s research for this body of knowledge, and I did know how to conduct effective Alpha Brain Wave Training programs. I had the
opportunity to research the question of enhancing creativity with Alpha Training using scientists at Stanford Research Institute. The top scientists
volunteered for a pilot program of EEG alpha feedback training, which increased their creativity by an average of 50%. This is amazing given that these.
Stanford Research Institute Scientists were already highly creative. The details of the research can be found on the Biocybernaut web site, www.biocybernaut.com/
We had some exciting results using the Biocybernaut Training Process. These talented research subjects had cleared their busy calendars to be away for a week of the Biocybernaut Alpha One Training. On the first day of Alpha training, during alpha enhancement feedback, one of the scientists experienced a breakthrough insight on a problem in his research that he had been working on for several years. He was so excited and eager to apply his new insight to his research immediately (elaboration) that he dropped out of training at the end of the first day, leaving us with one less research subject to actually complete the study!
Summary of Results
Creativity scores (ideational fluency) in the alpha feedback group increased dramatically by 50% (and this result was highly statistically significant) following their Alpha Training. Our control group had no significant creativity changes up or down. Stress scores decreased significantly by an average of 57.6% for the alpha feedback group than the control group, supporting the view that Alpha Feedback training reduces stress.
This study’s results – a highly significant increase in creativity of ideas (ideational fluency) in the alpha feedback group – suggest that it may be possible for a wide range of people to become more creative. This finding could have huge positive implications for daily life and the development of human culture. In the 1990s, ‘The Decade of the Brain,’ as designated by Congress, society recognized that the brain and development of the mind was a new frontier of human exploration. Like Germany and Japan, some societies are quick to adopt new processes that promise better performance and greater perfection. As they recognize the potential of this EEG feedback process to improve their most valuable resource, their people’s minds, other societies may suffer competitive disadvantages to the degree that they lack the resources and the vision to make this technology and process broadly available.
4.3.6 Improved Corporate Creativity
John Butcher, CEO of Precious Moments, used our neurofeedback training technology and protocol to enhance people’s creativity in his company.
‘In February of 1998, I flew to San Francisco to experience the alpha training first hand at Biocybernaut’s Mt. View, CA training center – and I was very impressed,’ John tells us. ‘My main business revolves around creating high-quality artwork, and I became quite interested in exploring the question of whether or not the alpha training could enhance creativity in any meaningful way.’
He continues, ‘During the months of May-November, 1998, Dr. Hardt and I established a training center on my property in Illinois. I asked my family members and a number of my employees if they would be willing to participate in the training. We had 16 people (mostly artists) go through the alpha training that summer. We were all very pleased with the results. In addition to the emotional benefits that we all received, many of us reported significant increases in creativity during and after the training. In the few weeks following the training, both my father and sister experienced an unprecedented creative burst, during which their productivity nearly doubled. My creativity noticeably increased as well – and I produced some of the best work of my career during the summer of 1998.’