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Brain Stimulation & Creativity

April 24, 2015

Stimulating the brain with mild electrical current may enhance creativity and treat depression.



Flavio Frohlich Max Englund UNC School of Medicine

Flavio Frohlich (Max Englund/UNC School of Medicine)

Boosting creativity with current. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

People perform significantly better on a test of creativity while their brains are being stimulated by a mild current that enhances the production of alpha waves—rhythmic brain activity also seen during meditation. This according to University of North Carolina neuroscientist Flavio Frohlich reporting in the journal Cortex.

FLAVIO FROHLICH (University of North Carolina School of Medicine):

What we wanted to do is to really demonstrate that these alpha oscillations are not just a side product, but they’re really the biological process that enable and drive creativity.


Flavio says that in addition to creativity, alpha waves are associated with feelings of well-being, and impairment of alpha waves is seen in patients with depression. A new study is focusing on seeing if the treatment could help re-train the brains of these patients to produce alpha oscillations and reduce their symptoms. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.