Neurotransmitters

4f.1Information is carried along the neural circuits by chemicals known as neurotransmitters or neurohormones.  These chemicals are responsible for our different moods and behavior patterns.

a. Dopamine – the “Pleasure” hormone:
This chemical molecule forms part of our reward system. It is secreted in the limbic system (emotional brain or 2nd brain). Whenever we do something rewarding, dopamine increases, creating the desire to repeat the rewarding task.

The dopamine pleasure circuit is one of the toughest to break, as the main focus is to seek pleasure such as is derived from smoking, drinking, gambling and other indulgences. Furthermore, people with low dopamine activity may be more prone to addictions.

If this dopamine is not expended by engaging in any indulgences, it is free to be channeled to the Prefrontal Cortex (4th brain), where it is used to increase focus, concentration and motivation for long term novel and challenging task – all of which are essential for creativity.

b. Serotonin – the “Zen-master” of our brain:
As the chief mood modulator of our brain, serotonin levels play a very important role in the creative process. Low levels of serotonin are seen in depressed people while high levels of serotonin keeps one positive and invigorated.

In addition to inducing a general level of well-being, serotonin also plays a very important role in halting the stress circuits in our brain, thus enabling one to stay calm and relaxed even in a trying situation.

c. Oxytocin – the “Trusting” hormone:
Another hormone that reduces levels of stress in our body is the nurturing hormone called Oxytocin. An emotionally secure person can move closer to a life enriched with creativity.

d. Cortisol – the “Stress” Hormone.
While the above three chemicals aid in the creative process, this is one chemical that hinders it. This hormone is produced, in large quantities, when our body is in the fight or flight response. Constant high levels of Cortisol in our blood stream cloud our cognitive process, making any creative thinking almost impossible. Oxytocin reduces secretion of the stress hormone Cortisol thus keeping us happy, healthy and relaxed.

To boost the creative process, we need to perform activities that raise the levels of Dopamine, Serotonin and Oxytocin and decrease the levels of stress hormones.

Neural and Neurochemical changes at Musetude Workshops:
Below is a table that describes the chemical composition and brain activity of our students while performing tasks at the Musetude workshops:

neurotransmitters

These are just a few of the most relevant neurotransmitters from the vast sea of chemicals in our brain that play an important role in the creative process.

“Music effects a steep rise in the levels of serotonin, which has positive influences on brain cells controlling mood, memory power and learning, temperature regulatory mechanism of the body, sleep and memory functions.” – buzzle.com