Imagination, Creativity and the human brain

Creativity & imagination

pictured above: A drawing inspired by one of Draw Sound’s creature sounds.

“We often think about the things we imagine and the things we perceive as being clearly dissociable. However, what this study shows is that our imagination of a sound or a shape changes how we perceive the world around us in the same way actually hearing that sound or seeing that shape does. Specifically, we found that what we imagine hearing can change what we actually see, and what we imagine seeing can change what we actually hear.”

Christopher Berger – Current Biology

Have you ever been told that you have an ‘active imagination’?

Our imagination is one of the most useful tools humans have at their disposal, although very little is known about what it does or how it really works.

What we do know is that everything that was ever created in the history of the world started in someone’s imagination.

Children have a vivid imagination, and scientists believe it is to do with the brain developing different parts of neural networks that fire together, called ‘mental synthesis.’

This may explain why, in later life, we can imagine something that we have never encountered in real life.

Can you imagine what a pink elephant looks like? You probably can.

It’s not surprising, then, that imagination can affect what we see and hear.

One research study found that sensory information from one sense distorts or changes a person’s perception of another sense.

Imagination is incredibly powerful because it’s essentially creativity in action.

What scientists have found is that imagination lights up large areas of the brain, creating an interconnecting network of activity across diffrerent areas.

“Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and, therefore, the foundation of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared.”

– J K Rowling

Imagination uses the whole brain, rather than isolated parts, so it can be a great way to extend ourselves beyond that which we are currently capable of.

Draw Sounds is a great way to encourage the use of imagination through listening to sounds, imagining shapes, and drawing them.

Spark your imagination today!

Sound Inspiration

How sound triggers memory

Our brain immediately reacts to sounds, starting from the earliest sounds of our childhood. while still in the mothers womb.

Did you know that scientists have found that music stimulates more parts of the brain than any other human function?

It works with the amygdala, which regulates the emotions and brain stem. This means that sounds can affect our breathing, our heart rate and even our digestion!

Sound helps with memory

Sound is so intrinsically connected to our emotions and the way we experience the world. This is why we can remember songs so well from many years ago, as they connect to a memory no matter how small and cause a positive or negative emotion.

Recent research has discovered that “carefully timed” sounds, like the rise and fall of waves washing against the shore, can help people remember things that they learned the previous day.

This means it is excellent for those who may want to trigger a memory, such as those helping dementia patients. Using ‘white noise’ for example, has been found to be incredibly effective for Alzheimers patients.

Draw Sounds can help the elderly utilise their hearing skills by allowing them to switch off, close their eyes, and escape into their imagination. By drawing or sketching in short bursts, it can even help them improve their dexerity and motor skills.

Want to try drawing a variety of weird and wonderful sounds?

Drawing Workshops

Why are “sound drawing” workshops so inspiring ?

It can be very rewarding to collaborate on a sound drawing session with a group of people.

The experience is similar to live drawing classes, but instead of a “visual motive” the session is based on listening to sounds.

Audience using their imagination while drawing sounds at a sound drawing workshop

Since sound is deeply emotional and transports all sort of meaning and associations for humans trying to make sense of the world, it tends to trigger associations.

Drawing a sound is incredibly creative as it allows the imagination to wander.

Who can host a sound drawing workshop?

A sound drawing workshop is perfectly suited to a college class, an arts space, a museum or a community group. The first workshop took place at the Berlin-based design & illustration festival Pictoplasma. It can be a fun activity that encourages group work as each sound is played on a continuous loop whilst the participants sketch.

Each sound has a different quality to it. The great thing about drawing sounds is that there is no right or wrong way to do it! You can spend just a couple of minutes making a quick sketch, or take a little bit longer to elaborate on a sound.

There are 60 Draw Sounds in total, and we recommend that a workshop should last around 45-60 minutes. You can run a sound workshop with any number of participants, but we recommend keeping the numbers below thirty.

Once you have listened to all the sounds, it is a good idea to share feedback. Participants can share their drawings and explain how they experienced the sound. You can let participants keep their drawings, or perhaps include some and make a wall collage of different ‘sound creatures!’