Rap Your Head Around This

Nic Halverson reports on the discovery of unusual brain activity that occurs when rappers freestyle, as opposed to rehearsed rhyming:

[F]reestylers enter a "flow" state, which researchers described as a "complete immersion in creative activity, typified by focused self-motivation, positive emotional valence and loss of self-consciousness." Their creative gate is wide open.

"It's the absence of attention," said [study co-author Dr. Allen] Braun. "When the attention system is partially offline, you can just let things fly and let things come without critiquing, monitoring or judging them."

Daniel Cressey points to similar research that explains the trance-like state that artists sometimes feel they enter while creating:

Rex Jung, a clinical neuropsychologist at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, has also studied the link between brain structures and creativity, finding an inverse relationship between the volume of some frontal lobe structures and creativity…. [This suggests] an explanation for why new music might seem to the artist to be created of its own accord. With less involvement by the lateral prefrontal regions of the brain, the performance could seem to its creator to have "occurred outside of conscious awareness", the authors write.

In related news, scientists in China recently translated brain and physiological activity into music, which could ultimately be used to help patients learn to consciously control brain activity.