Hvordan lyder den korte og aktuelle definition af begrebet flow? »En persons bevidsthedstilstand, fuldstændigt involveret i det han eller hun er i færd med.Det er den korteste definition, men vi kan opregne en række andre dimensioner, der sædvanligvis vil være til stede hos den, der oplever en flow-tilstand: At have meget klare mål, at få umiddelbar feedback på foretagne handlinger, at erfare en balance mellem udfordringer og evner, at være så intenst koncentreret – så du glemmer dig selv, så du glemmer tiden.Når disse betingelser gør sig gældende, føler personen, at det, han eller hun gør, er værd at gøre for dets egen skyld. Det er den mere udvidede definition.«Angående flow-begrebets historie: Blev det opfundet af dig, eller gav du det nyt liv? Der synes at være lighedspunkter mellem de stoiske dyder, der hylder hhv. det standsede og permanente nu, og tanken om flow? »De fleste af lighedspunkterne fandt jeg først senere.Begrebet flow opstod, da jeg skrev min afhandling for ca. 30 år siden og så nærmere på, hvorfor kunstnere bliver så opslugte af deres arbejde med malerier og skulpturer. Igennem interviews fandt jeg ud af, at de beskrev denne opslugthed på stort set den samme måde.Samtidig underviste jeg studerende, der som opgave fik at undersøge en række andre aktiviteter, såsom sport og kunstneriske aktiviteter, og de kunne også påvise, at de involverede havde flow-oplevelser.Senere har det vist sig at disse oplevelser også kan foregå, når vi er på arbejde. De er ikke udelukkende knyttet til fritidsaktiviteter eller kunstneriske virkefelter. «
Transient hypofrontality is a daunting name for an experience many of us will recognize. Simply put, (neuroscience of creativity expert) Rex Jung says that intelligence works like a “superhighway,” with massive numbers of connections being made between the different parts of the brain with speed and directness. When we become more creative, our powerful, organizing frontal lobes down-regulate a bit. The creative brain is a “meandering” brain. The superhighways give way to “side roads and dirt roads,” making possible the new and unexpected connections we associate with artistry, discovery, and humor.
Steven Kotler is an American bestselling author, journalist, and entrepreneur. His articles have appeared in over 70 publications, including The New York Times Magazine, LA Times, Wired, GQ, Discover, Popular Science, Outside, Men’s Journal, Details and National Geographic Adventure. He is best known for his non-fiction books, including the New York Times bestseller Abundance, A Small Furry Prayer, West of Jesus, and Bold.
It is the central hypothesis of this paper that the mental states commonly referred to as altered states of consciousness are principally due to transient prefrontal cortex deregulation. Supportive evidence from psychological and neuroscientific studies of dreaming, endurance running, meditation, daydreaming, hypnosis, and various drug-induced states is presented and integrated. It is proposed that transient hypofrontality is the unifying feature of all altered states and that the phenomenological uniqueness of each state is the result of the differential viability of various frontal circuits.
The term "altered state of consciousness" was introduced and defined by Ludwig in 1966. An altered state of consciousness is any mental state induced by physiological, psychological, or pharmacological maneuvers or agents, which deviates from the normal waking state of consciousness.Some observable abnormal and sluggish behaviors meet the criteria for altered state of consciousness. Altered states of consciousness can also be associated with artistic creativity or different focus levels. They also can be shared interpersonally and studied as a subject of sociological research
Hypofrontality is a state of decreased cerebral blood flow (CBF) in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. Hypofrontality is symptomatic of several neurological medical conditions, such asschizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder.
Then I noticed an intriguing comment tucked away in a research paper on the biochemistry of creativity: “EEG studies show that creative individuals exhibit transient hypofrontality when engaged in the solution of creative problems.” A bibliographic search duly led me to a review paper describing recent research on something called the “transient hypofrontality hypothesis.” Conceptually, this idea is relatively simple. Altered mental states arising from activities such as meditation and strenuous exercise are associated with a reduction in activity of the higher cognitive centers of the prefrontal cortex, a condition known as hypofrontality. In the case of meditation, the individual’s attention is self-controlled in such a way as to prevent the conscious processing of extraneous information. In sustained exercise, the demands of the physical workload force the redistribution of neural resources in the brain.It all seems quite believable. My vigorous uphill walks are a kind of meditative exercise that sends me into a state of transient hypofrontality, which in turn assists the creative process.
The autotelic personality is an individual who generally does things for their own sake, in the “here and now”,rather than for some later goal.No one is fully autotelic, since we all have to do things even if we don’t enjoy them, either out of a sense of duty or necessity. But there is a gradation, ranging from individuals who almost never feel that what they do is worth doing for its own sake, to others who feel that most anything they do is fun and valuable in its own right. It is to these latter individuals the term autotelic personality applies.The autotelic personality are people with several very specific personality traits which are better able to achieve the “flow experience” than the average person. These personality traits include curiosity, persistence, low self-centeredness, and a desire of performing activities for intrinsic reasons only.
"Autotelic personality" is an individual who tends to do things for their own sake rather that achieving some distant external goal (Csikszentmihalyi, 1975). This personality is distinguished by certain meta-skills such as high interest in life, persistence, as well as low self-centeredness.(....)The state of flow has been rarely investigated from a neuropsychological perspective but is a growing interest. According to Dietrich (2004), it has been associated with decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex.The prefrontal cortex is an area responsible for higher cognitive functions such as self-reflective consciousness, memory, temporal integration, and working memory (Dietrich et al., 2003). It’s an area that’s responsible for our conscious and explicit mind state.However, in a state of flow, this area is believed to temporarily down-regulate; a process called transient hypofrontality. This temporary inactivation of the prefrontal area may trigger the feeling of distortion of time, loss of self-consciousness, and loss of inner-critic.Moreover, the inhibition of the prefrontal lobe may enable the implicit mind to take over, resulting in more brain areas to communicate freely and engage in a creative process.In other research, it’s also hypothesized that the flow state is related to the brain’s dopamine reward circuitry since curiosity is highly amplified (Gruber et al., 2014).
How this all works comes down to neurobiology. Flow is the product of profound changes in standard brain function. In the state, our brainwaves move from the fast-moving beta wave of normal waking consciousness down to the far slower borderline between alpha and theta waves. Alpha is associated with day-dreaming mode—when we can slip from thought to thought without much internal resistance. Theta, meanwhile, only shows up during REM or just before we fall asleep, in that hypnogogic gap where ideas combine in truly radical ways. Since creativity is always recombinatory—the product of novel information bumping into old thoughts to create something startling new—being able to slip between thoughts quickly and combine them wildly enhances creativity at a very fundamental level.But brainwaves are only the beginning of this discussion. Flow is also caused by “transient hypofrontality”— the temporary deactivation of the prefrontal cortex. The PFC is the part of our brain that houses most of our higher cognitive function. Why does our sense of self disappear in flow? Because self is generated by large portions of the prefrontal cortex and with large swatches of this area no longer open for business, that sense vanishes completely.This too has huge consequences for creativity. For example, during flow, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex—the part of the brain charged with self-monitoring and impulse control—goes quiet. The DLPFC is our inner critic, that voice of doubt and disparagement. As a result, with this area deactivated, we’re far less critical and far more courageous, both augmenting our ability to imagine new possibilities and share those possibilities with the world.Lastly, during flow, the brain releases an enormous cascade of neurochemistry. Large quantities of norepinephrine, dopamine, endorphins, anandamide, and serotonin flood our system. All are pleasure-inducing, performance-enhancing chemicals with considerable impacts on creativity. Both norepinephrine and dopamine amp up focus, boosting imaginative possibilities by helping us gather more information. They also lower signal-to-noise ratios, increasing pattern recognition or our ability to link ideas together in new ways. Anandamide, meanwhile, increases lateral thinking—meaning it expands the size of the database searched by the pattern recognition system.Taken together, these neurochemical, neuroelectrical and neuroanatomical changes in brain function provide us with an exceptionally potent workaround for the problem of teaching people how to be more creative. Instead of having to come at this thorny problem head on, we can instead train up people’s ability to find flow and the state’s neurobiology takes care of the rest.