Does Cannabis Boost Creativity?
For many, all it takes is the uplifting smooch of a sativa to unclog a bout of writer's block or to bring a fresh pair of eyes to a painting. But could this so-called creative burst be just an illusion of the mind?
The perception of creativity and cannabis is one largely viewed as a match made in heaven - believed to give rise to new avenues of thought and insight. However, a recent study conducted by researchers from Leiden University in the Netherlands look to dispel this marijuana myth.
Assistant professor of neuromodulation and cognition at the university Dr. Lorenza Colzato said in a statement. "If you want to overcome writer's block or any other creative gap, lighting up a joint isn't the best solution. Smoking several joints one after the other can even be counterproductive to creative thinking.“
Alongside fellow colleague Dr. Mikael Kowal, Colzato recruited 54 marijuana smoking participants to take part in the study. The group were then divided into three groups of 18. The first group were given 22mg of THC, the second 5.5mg of THC and the third a placebo. Consumption of the marijuana was facilitated by the use of a vaporizer. Participants were not told what dose they received.
Once administered, the participants where then put through their paces with a range of cognitive tasks. These tasks focused upon two types of creative thought processes, the first being 'divergent thinking' (coming up with creative solutions fast) and the other 'convergent thinking', the ability to find the only right answer to a question.
Analyzing the results, the researchers found that participants who had received the highest dosage of THC performed the worst on the tasks. Therefore the THC had an overall negative effect upon their ability to come up with solutions for the specified tasks. The participants with the low dose or placebo displayed much better creative thinking skills in comparison to the high dosage group. With that being said, there were no signs of increased creativity in their actual performance.
It can be argued that judging participants on the speed with which they come up with a solution is a patently bad idea when it comes to cannabis. Quite odiously, the results of the study directly contradict the experience of cannabis consumers all over, which raises significant doubt about the methodology of the study. Cannabis doesn’t necessarily work on a cerebral, intellectual level, and even tends to mute those skills. Measuring creativity on exactly that cerebral level seems to entirely miss the point. As Einstein famously put it, you can’t judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree.
While this study was thorough in a number places it neglected a great deal more. For that reason alone, implies the results are fair game for scrutiny. How could creativity be condensed into a single cognitive task? Surely the fact the participants were placed in unfamiliar and unnatural dwellings played a part in the overall outcome? Would things have been different if they were in the comfort of their own homes, thus making for a more creative space?
With this study seemingly raising more questions than answers, it just shows things aren't always so black and white. But with that being said, perhaps this will open the door for further explorations into the unhinged realms of cannabis and creativity. At least for now, we can all think what we want.