Creative people’s brains are not good at filtering out sensory information | Darya Zabelina

Our conceptual processes, including creativity, are a function of our sensory processes. The research described in this article found a relationship between sensory information processing and creative achievement. Understanding creativity as a process of generating new and useful connections among units of information, this research also emphasizes the distinction between the quantity of information available (via reduced sensory gating / Perception-level processing) and the quality of connections being made (via divergent thinking / Association-level processing).

In our everyday life we are constantly bombarded by sensory information, but some people seem to be more affected by this sensory input than others, or you may say some people have “leakier” sensory filters than other people…

Our recent work provides [the] first physiological evidence that creativity may indeed be associated with the reduced ability to filter our “irrelevant” sensory information…. Interestingly, people who performed well on the laboratory measure of divergent thinking showed increased sensory gating (better filtering) compared to lower divergent thinkers…. [R]eal-world creative achievers appear to have reduced filtering of sensory information, which may be the mechanism for their wider focus on a larger range of stimuli, and their ability to make connections between distantly related concepts or ideas. In conjunction with other protective factors, such as cognitive control, reduced sensory gating may be what is needed for real-world creative achievements. In the absence of strong cognitive control (or other protective factors), leaky sensory processing may be a risk factor for attention disorders and/or psychopathology.


Darya Zabelina (Psychology Today) | Creativity and sensory gating