How is it that some of us are so highly creative? Doctor (and musician) Charles Lamb is a scientist who studies musical improvisation using fMRI scans, and he has developed theories that apply to all forms of creativity. The subjects were asked to play written music and then to improvise using a mini-keyboard while they were jammed into an fMRI scanners. The brain works very differently when it improvises. It appears that an area of the brain involved in self-monitoring turning off and an area that is autobiographical/expressive turning on. His hypothesis is that the latter area needs to shut off so that we are not inhibited and we are not afraid to make mistakes.
Lamb found that when jazz musicians were “trading fours” taking turns improvising four-bar sections, their language areas of the brain lit up (11:30).
He also did an experiment regarding free-style hip hop rap music by putting a rapper into an fMRI machine, performing a pre-written tune and a free-style session. When free-style is being done, visual and motor coordination areas light up.