Endlessly distracted by the sounds of your open office? Blame your own creative genius. A new study from Northwestern University psychologists finds that creative brains have a harder time filtering out unnecessary sensory stimulation, like excess noise.
The study's subjects filled out a questionnaire regarding their creative achievements in the fields of art, dance, music, architecture, creative writing, humor, scientific invention, and more. The researchers measured their "sensory gating"—the neurological process of filtering irrelevant environmental stimuli to keep your brain from being overloaded. The participants sat in a sound booth with headphones, while the researchers played two millisecond-long audible clicks and measured their brain activity through an EEG. While generally people ignore the click the second time they hear it, those with leaky sensory gating had just as great of a neurological response to the second click as they did to the first.