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创意机器(1)

2007-04-02 09:38British Council

Creativity Machine

Writers, artists and musicians desperate for inspiration have often sought their creative muse in love, alcohol or drugs, which often lead at worst to personal tragedy, or at best artistic nonsense. Creative types looking to open up the gateway to their imagination might want to look at the work on neurofeedback being done by Professor John Gruzelier Research Fellow at Goldsmiths College London. 'I have been working in this area since the mid nineties,' explains Gruzelier, 'and having had a career in cognitive neuroscience, I decided I really wanted to diversify into applied psychology.' Gruzelier extended his work to exploring creative states.

Borderline

There is a state 'on the border between waking and sleeping,' says Gruzelier, 'which has been known for being conducive to creative ideas. The idea is to produce that state in people and we found in the case of Royal College of Music students it was this particular stage that was conducive to enhancing artistry and performance to a professionally significant degree.'

Neurofeedback works by playing brainwaves through sensors back to a participant in symbolic forms such as visual patterns. Musicians, for example, are then trained to control brain rhythms to enhance their playing. Gruzelier refers to practices like aerobics and the Alexander Technique which performers have used to relax and enhance their performance. But Gruzelier's work is focusing on the brain processes that make this happen and finessing techniques which deliver different brain wave stimuli for different requirements. 'Slow wave training enhances artistry and fastwave training enhances memory and possibly technique.'

Spontaneous gliding

Participants clearly register a difference. One Royal College of Music student was thrilled that the training sessions allowed her mind to 'freely glide with my creative ideas, bringing a new kind of spontaneity and energy to my thought processes.'

As part of a NESTA-funded project, Gruzelier is working with singers and students at Trinity College of Music, Goldsmith's and intends to reach out to local schools. And the research is not just about music. 'Can it spill over to other areas of people's lives?' asks Gruzelier. 'In a study of highly socially anxious medical students we found that both their self-perceptions and interaction with people had improved.' It's also been shown to improve concentration and memory, which may mean that neurofeedback may have broader therapeutic applications.

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