Those that feel they’re in a creative rut or having yet another bout of writer’s block, might want to take a hike, and I mean that in a nice way, Creativity in the Wild: Improving Higher-Level Creative Reasoning through Immersion in Natural Settings
Adults and children are spending more time interacting with media and technology and less time participating in activities in nature. This life-style change clearly has ramifications for our physical well-being, but what impact does this change have on cognition? Higher order cognitive functions including selective attention, problem solving, inhibition, and multi-tasking are all heavily utilized in our modern technology-rich society. Attention Restoration Theory (ART) suggests that exposure to nature can restore prefrontal cortex-mediated executive processes such as these. Consistent with ART, research indicates that exposure to natural settings seems to replenish some, lower-level modules of the executive attentional system. However, the impact of nature on higher-level tasks such as creative problem solving has not been explored. Here we show that four days of immersion in nature, and the corresponding disconnection from multi-media and technology, increases performance on a creativity, problem-solving task by a full 50% in a group of naive hikers. Our results demonstrate that there is a cognitive advantage to be realized if we spend time immersed in a natural setting. We anticipate that this advantage comes from an increase in exposure to natural stimuli that are both emotionally positive and low-arousing and a corresponding decrease in exposure to attention demanding technology, which regularly requires that we attend to sudden events, switch amongst tasks, maintain task goals, and inhibit irrelevant actions or cognitions. A limitation of the current research is the inability to determine if the effects are due to an increased exposure to nature, a decreased exposure to technology, or to other factors associated with spending three days immersed in nature.
Not everyone has easy access to hiking trials so a walk in the park might have to substitute. Changing routines has also been proven to stimulate the creative thought process – take a different route to work, stop someplace new for coffee, switch back and forth between a PC and a MAC. if you always use a word processor try using pen and paper while sitting by a window.
Tracy Packiam Alloway researches working memory at the University of North Florida and has developed the world’s first standardised working memory tests for educators. Her latest book is an edited collection, Working Memory: The Connected Intelligence, published by Psychology Press.
What is working memory?
You could think of it as the brain’s conductor. So for example, when we speak, working memory would be bringing the words that we know together and connecting them into a coherent sentence. It’s the conscious processing of information. We see working memory at work not just in education – researchers have looked at how working memory plays a critical role in a whole range of different daily functions.
[ ]…How is it different from IQ?
It’s so much more important than IQ. The very definition of working memory is your ability to learn, your potential; it doesn’t measure what you have learned. In a typical IQ test, you might have to provide a definition of a word. One of the studies I did in the UK was with students in two schools in very different communities. In one test, they had to give me definitions of words such as “police”. In one school they would say: “They wear uniforms, they keep you safe” and in the other they gave me responses such as: “I don’t like police, they took my dad away.” Unfortunately, the responses in the latter group didn’t match the kind of textbook answers that the test was looking for in terms of knowledge or IQ. In contrast, when I looked at working memory scores, there was no difference. The crucial aspect, which is very exciting, is that working memory is not dependent on environment.
You’ve done work with teachers to find out how they see children with poor working memory.
A lot of times, they describe these children as daydreamers, or maybe just not trying hard enough, or unmotivated. As they get older, they begin to disengage with education, they begin to feel “I can’t do it, I’m going to fail, so why should I try?” The gap between them and their peers begins to widen, because they feel more and more frustrated. These are common features of students with poor working memory.
I have some problems with putting too much emphasis on short term working memory as an indicator of intelligence and even the capacity to learn. Yet she may have a very good point in general about looking beyond standard IQ tests. Some very bright people have eccentric and inconsistent working memory, but are gifted in areas like math or history. There has also been some research that indicates that as a group those who score in the higher percentiles on standardized IQ tests tend to be more successful academically and earn more over their lifetimes. Though that explains only one facet of a group trend. Motivation and working memory may add up to the same academic results. Some kids just don’t like the classroom environment, they can up doing just as well as their gifted friends. Motivation and self discipline can make up so much of the difference between the gifted and the hard workers that the groups are indistinguishable.
Amazingly, just the simple act of offering financial rewards, increases how well someone does on an IQ test. Again, the motivation factor.
s.i. russell celestial map, circa 19th century. Or “A map of the heavens in January, February and March”.
3,500 Comments Later, Racist Conservatives Apparently Don’t Like Jamie Foxx and Django Very Much. A good indicator of one’s moral and logical bankruptcy is to imagine one has been done great harm by the portrayal a of a slave taking revenge against his en-slavers. Much of this is from the same people who think there will never be an enough deaths to pay for 9-11. The eye for an eye until we’re all blind school of lunacy.
The collodion process was a wet chemical photographic development process that replaced the daguerreotype in the 1850s. It was the first negative process that gave clear details replicating the original photograph. I think it was Henry Fox Talbot who had the first negative process, but it produced a kind of hazy, almost stretch-like picture. The Wet Collodion Process