University of Houston’s Associate Professor of Dance and Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering Dr. Jose Luis Contreras-Vidal studies how creativity affects the brain.

I’m sure I’m not the only one to partake in silly online quizzes, especially those that try to identify who one is- I’m a sucker for that. Most people can classify themselves as either a “left-brain” or “right-brain” functioning person and can relate to psychology behind how each hemisphere works: the theory that the left side of your brain aids to a more logical, analytical, mathematically guided person, where as the right side tends to the creative, intuitive and imaginative being. Research of this behavioral-neuroscience offers insight to help explain why we act and think the way we do. Scientists believe and have proven that the impact of activating the potential of both hemispheres combined leads to more intelligent, proficient, capable beings in all areas.


The science behind left-brain versus right-brain thinkers frequently meets challenges. Like the 2013 NPR article suggests, I think it’s fair and necessary to question and define an exact meaning of what it is to be “logical” and “creative” to study this left and right balance.


So how can one measure and tests this? Furthermore, what do we stand to gain from such a debate? Dancer Becky Valls is working to decipher just what inspires creativity to shape ourselves with fellow Coog Professor, neuroscientist and engineer Jose Luis Contreras-Vidal, PhD.


Using Contreras-Vidal’s algorithms based on electrical activity to study the correlation of her dancing and the activity of her brain, Valls was fitted with motion sensors and a wireless skullcap embedded with 64 electrodes to track both her physical movements and the emotions behind them while she performed a signature 8 minute dance piece, self-described as interpreting “anger and fear but also survival,” under the stage lights of the Jose Quintero Theatre at the University of Houston.

Every time she performs, she is creating,” Contreras-Vidal said. “We want to know what it takes to be creative. We want to understand the process, and maybe train people to get better at

I’m interested in seeing in the future how this research will unfold…

To read the full article reagrding Valls and Contreras-Vidal’s work, visit

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