Creativity and the Cerebellum

We have known for some time that creative thought is hampered by “over thinking”. In other words, if you try to analyze too much, you will not be able to do. The doing has to flow easily.

This reminds me of my father. He was a surgeon and an avid golfer. As a surgeon, he had a powerful analytical mind. He did a lot of diagnoses in his practice. And so he took his diagnostic skills to the golf course to try to analyze his own swing and improve it. The results were poor — even after extended work. He never developed a “natural” swing.  My brother, on the other hand, did develop a natural swing and he is a very good golfer.  He could never explain it. He just did it.

Recent research may help explain at least part of this. The pre-frontal cortex is where we do a lot of thinking. You might think of this as the brain’s control center. The cerebellum was thought more to regulate movement. Not part of thinking. Ooops!

The research suggests that this may not  be the case. It turns out that the cerebellum gets active when creative work gets underway. It calms down when the work becomes more routine. In other words, the cerebellum may play a critical role in linking parts of the brain together to develop better creative solutions to problems.

Think of this as  — creativity comes out of doing. Not the other way around.

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