The human brain needs to suppress obvious ideas in order to reach the most creative ones, according to scientists at Queen Mary University of London and Goldsmiths, University of London.

Creativity requires us to break away from more common and easily reached ideas but we know little about how this happens in our brain.

A new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that brainwaves play a crucial role in inhibiting habitual thinking modes to pave the way to access more remote ideas.

The researchers found that these brainwaves, or alpha oscillations in the right temporal area of the brain, increase when individuals need to suppress misleading associations in creative tasks.

These obvious associations are present in both convergent thinking and also in divergent thinking (when individuals have to come up with several creative ideas).

Higher levels of alpha brainwaves enable people to come up with ideas which are further away from the obvious or well-known uses.

The researchers show that stimulating the right temporal part of the brain in the alpha frequency increases the capability of inhibiting obvious links in both types of creative thinking.

This was demonstrated by applying an electrical current to the brain through a non-invasive technique called transcranial alternating current brain stimulation (tACS) which causes minimal to no side effects or sensations.

Read more at Queen Mary University of London