The Neuroscientist … and A Little Lateral Thinking

In ‘A Little Lateral Thinking’, broadcast on BBC Radio 4, Stephen Smith explored the far-reaching influence of Dr Edward de Bono’s ground-breaking Lateral Thinking.

In the broadcast, Stephen spoke with Tony Blair’s Chief of Staff, Jonathan Powell. Jonathan explained that, to him, Lateral Thinking is a state of mind. And there’s some scientific evidence to support his opinion.

Professor Mark Beeman of Northwestern University, Illinois, is the cognitive neuroscientist, credited with discovering the place in the brain where the creative spark begins. Professor Beeman says:

“It looks like the population of neurons in the left and right hemispheres differ slightly. In the left hemisphere, you have neurons that collect information in a very tight and organised way that can maintain a tight and organised style of thinking.

When we look at the neurons in the right hemisphere, they seem to branch out further from the cell bodies so the pieces of the neuron that collect information, the dendrites, have more connections, more synaptic spine connections.

Now, in the brain, the further you reach out from that, the more you are going to cross over into other information. We’re still just beginning to map those out.”

Suddenly, the limitless possibility of Lateral Thinking makes perfect sense. And, as de Bono trainer Peter Lewis explained, quantity of ideas leads to a quality outcome.

Listen to the full broadcast of ‘A Little Lateral Thinking’ here.

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