Shedding some light on the age-old question of whether creativity is a question of nature or nurture, researchers have identified "brain integration" as a recurring characteristic among creative people in a small new study.
Brain integration is also referred to as mind-brain development, marked by openness to learning and to broader understanding without letting negative emotions obstruct interests. It is cited as a goal of Transcendental Meditation, of which study author Fred Travis is an advocate.
In their study, published in Creativity Research Journal, Travis -- a brain researcher from Iowa's Maharishi University of Management, founded by the man who developed Transcendental Meditation -- and quality management researcher Yvonne
Lagrosen from Sweden's University West worked with 21 Swedish product engineers who'd scored between the 70th and 90th percentiles on the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking (TTCT).
Travis attached subjects to an EEG device, commonly used to collect data on brain lobes and the waves they produce.
Apart from the EEG, subjects were tested on swiftness of decision making, speed of processing information and sense of coherence.
The data was then used to identify and quantify brain integration, which was found to be at higher levels among those who scored the best on creativity tests.
Sure enough, these individuals processed information faster, made decisions more efficiently and had a stronger sense of being in control of their situations than the less creative subjects.
"Our empirical findings highlight that creativity, in the form of flexibility and originality, is connected to whole brain functioning and psychological development," says Dr. Lagrosen. "Since creativity is highly important for individual success, optimizing brain functioning should be a priority for every student."
The end of the testing means the beginning of the long journey towards answering the question of how to improve brain integration, Travis points out.
"This then raises a question," asks Travis. "Is it possible to increase one's level of brain integration, or is it simply a matter of genes (nature) or a supportive environment (nurture)?"
Enter Transcendental Meditation, which Travis associated with creativity in a separate, 2011 study.
"People who want to excel in any field should consider learning Transcendental Meditation," says Travis, "and see for themselves the effect of regular transcending on inner happiness and outer success."
Practiced by celebrities such as David Lynch and Ellen DeGeneres, the technique is used to treat PTSD and was shown to lower heart risk in a 2012 American study.