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Attention ... acts like a gardener who points the hose to direct water where needed

A new study unveils brain secrets behind creative flow. Recording Philadelphia jazz musicians' brain activity during improv, researchers found flow involves relaxing conscious control rather than intense focus. The most creative, experienced musicians showed reduced activity in frontal lobes associated with the executive-control network - the brain's "gardener" directing attention. After intensive practice building expertise, surrendering this attentional control allows a separate brain network dedicated to the creative domain to take over uninhibited. The key to unlocking flow? Train intensively, then let your skills wail while the "attentional gardener" steps aside from directing the creative "hose" and lets it flow freely.

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