Arthur Koestler, in ï¿½The Act of Creationï¿½ wrote of the intimate relationship between humour and creativity; of ï¿½ahaï¿½ and ï¿½hahaï¿½.
This is borne out by experiment and also has a plausible explanation in terms of brain function.
In a paper* published in the Journal Of Cognitive Neuroscience, four researchers from the Department of Psychology and Cognitive Brain Mapping Group at Northwestern University demonstrate that:
- watching humour (a Robin Williams comedy) improves creative problem solving
- watching an anxiety-inducing movie (The Shining) reduces it
- activity in the brainï¿½s Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC) increases when in a good mood
The ACC helps to regulate our attention and hence our focus on a problem.
* “A brain mechanism for facilitation of insight by positive affectï¿½
by Karuna Subramaniam, John Kounios, Todd B. Parrish, and Mark Jung-Beeman
Journal Of Cognitive Neuroscience March 2009, Vol 21(3) pp.415-32)