Subconscious genius

The key to dropping the straight hip hop dope, say those who are actually dropping mad Science, is to let the words flow without thinking

Rappers, chill out. There may be more to it than just busting a rhyme.

A new study, published this week in Scientific Reports, suggests that freestyle rapping provides insights into how the creative process works. Neuroscientists at the US National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders in Maryland have detected lower rates of activity in the brain's frontal lobe, an area previously thought to be activated in creative behaviour.

Paradoxically, rappers who are better at stringing together spontaneous lyrics show decreased brain activity. The key to creativity, it seems, may be simply to relax and allow the subconscious to take over.

The finding might have a special resonance for the region. The researchers will now study similar forms of freestyle verse, including poetry. In Arabic, the word "genius" - abqari - comes from the name of a mythical valley thought to be where muses inspired pre-Islamic Arabian poets. The ancient Greek had similar myths.

Neuroscientists believe they have discoved this valley, metaphorically speaking. There are sound explanations for extraordinary talents that once were ascribed to supernatural powers. Nobody tell Jay-Z.

Published: November 20, 2012 04:00 AM