Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Uncorking the Muse

While too much alcohol merely makes you think you were clever the previous night, a little might actual make you so.

Via The Hot Button, comes news of research from the University of Illinois on alcohol and intelligence.
Researchers suggest that the moderate levels of alcohol “loosened up” a person’s focus, allowing them to solve intuitive and creative word association problems, while the sober participants were more rigid in their problem-solving. In the study, both groups watched an animated movie. Afterward, they were given this test: They saw three words on a screen and then had to come up with a fourth that could form a phase with each of them. (Example: For peach, arm and tar, the response would be pit.)
Science News has a little more and the (gated) paper is here.
The abstract of the paper:

That alcohol provides a benefit to creative processes has long been assumed by popular culture, but to date has not been tested. The current experiment tested the effects of moderate alcohol intoxication on a common creative problem solving task, the Remote Associates Test (RAT). Individuals were brought to a blood alcohol content of approximately .075, and, after reaching peak intoxication, completed a battery of RAT items. Intoxicated individuals solved more RAT items, in less time, and were more likely to perceive their solutions as the result of a sudden insight. Results are interpreted from an attentional control perspective.

I have discussed how 'controlled distraction' is one key to creative thinking and it is interesting to see more on the subject.

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