Scientists at the University of Sydney's Center for the Mind in Australia have created a real-life thinking cap. They did it by jolting the brain with electricity flowing from a strange headpiece with rubber straps and twisted tubes.
Although to get a real brainstorm users must wear the bizarre device on their heads, researchers insist its worth it. They believe it will help people boost their creativity and insight.
It works by suppressing the electrical flow in the left side of the brain and forcing the right side to pick up the slack. Theoretically, the increased use of the right half of the brain—the part that drives creativity and imagination-will boost the user's right brain power.
The researchers discovered that participants in the study that wore the electronic device that stimulated the anterior temporal lobes of the brain had a remarkable increase in insight.
The findings revealed by the experiment are supported by other evidence that the right side of the brain is associated with insight and creativity while the left is more influenced by a construct of preconceptions.
Center director Allan Snyder told the UK Sun, "If you wanted to look at the world, just briefly, with a child's view, if you wanted to look outside the box" you would use the device. He emphasized it will not work to increase study skills or enhance long-term memory retention. The research is published in open-access journal PLoS ONE.
In tests, the electrified thinking cap did significantly impact math test scores favorably. According to researchers conducting the test on 60 people, three times as many people who wore the cap completed the exam compared to the control group bereft of the thinking cap's electro-benefits.
The inspiration-generating device was itself borne from inspiration. Researchers noticed that many people who damaged the left side of their brains during an accident often had their creative skills boosted.
"We know that from certain types of brain damage and abnormalities or injuries," he explained, "people who suddenly have damage to the left temporal lobe will burst out in the arts or other types of creative activities."
Asked about the ultimate goal of such a device, Snyder said he hoped it would help people suppress their lifetime of habits and experiences leading to a greater ability to identify things as they really are—a strong tool in problem solving.
"The dream is that one day we may be able to stimulate the brain in a particular way to give you, just momentarily, an unfiltered view of the world," he added.