Turn Up the Volume to Boost Your Brain's Creative Power

coffee shopYou know how we're supposed to need "peace and quiet" to be able to concentrate? Maybe that's true if the task at hand is paying bills or something else similarly straightforward, but according to a new study, "moderate ambient noise" is more likely to trigger "creative, innovative and abstract" thoughts than silence. So what qualifies as moderate ambient noise?

Think Starbucks on an average afternoon -- busy but not packed, buzzing but not booming. Because when that moderate noise gets to the not-so-moderate level, that creative thought thing goes right out the window. Much like a recent not-so-average afternoon I spent on my laptop at a Starbucks where the very enthusiastic young barista pumped the music up really loud and sang along really really loud to each and every song.

Indeed, just the right amount of noise is necessary if you want to get those ideas flowing. How does it work? Apparently, "a noisy environment can induce a certain degree of 'disfluency' or 'processing difficulty,' which can disrupt your normal way of thinking in such a way that it actually enhances the sort of abstract thinking that can spur real creativity."

Interesting, right? But let's say you don't feel like going out for coffee. How can you create moderate ambient noise at home? Here are a few ideas to try:

White noise machines

Nature sounds CDs (waves, crickets, etc.)

Put the TV on and set the volume super low (so you can hear noise, but not well enough to make out the words)

Personally, my favorite is still the coffee shop idea. But that's just because caffeine always helps to get my creative juices flowing, too!

Image via Melinda/Flickr

general health, mental health