A recent experiment* suggested that certain sorts of simple movements can improve creative thinking. Researchers had students squeeze a rubber ball with their right and left hands before taking a test – success on which required “the formation of associative links between otherwise unrelated concepts in order to solve problems in novel ways”.
Those squeezing the ball with their left hand outperformed both those using their right and those with their hands clutching nothing at all. Researchers assume that the activity undertaken on the left stimulated the brain’s right hemisphere in which at least part of one’s creative potential is thought to reside.
I’ve exposited in this space many times in different ways about movement and its importance to cerebral dynamics and physical fitness. If a few forearm contractions can measurably enhance one’s imagination, think about the benefits of a holistic regimen for a while and then consider the ramifications of a lack thereof.
OK. Let’s start at the very beginning – a very good place to start. In an article in the New Yorker** Rebecca Mead tells us “How tot lots became places to build children’s brains”. She tells us that an understanding the expenditure of valuable energy in ‘play’ activities begins with the observation that the most intelligent animals all engage in them.
Ms Mead cites anthropologist Melvin Konner who defines play as “inefficient, partly repetitive movements in varied sequences with no apparent purpose”. He goes on: “The idea is that natural selection designed play to shape brain development … [it is] directing [one’s own] brain assembly”.
And ya gotta keep doin’ it. Most will agree that physical activity is essential for physical health. It’s essential for your headbone too. No one will convince me that hours spent moving a mouse or flippin’ IPad pages will supplant squeezing that ball.
If the only vigorous exercise you get is struggling with footwear at either end of the day you’ll end up like Vladimir in Beckett’s Godot: “We have time to grow old. The air is full of our cries. But habit is a great deadener. At me too someone is looking, of me too someone is saying, He is sleeping, he knows nothing, let him sleep on”.
* Psychonomic Bulleton & Review 2010, 17 (6), 895-899 Goldstein et al
**State of Play, The New Yorker, July 5, 2010
***cf post 1/24/2008 – “Let’s Dance”