What Happens to the Brain When You’re Creating?

Ever heard that creative people use more of their “right” brain, while more data-driven analytical people use their “left” brains? This left-brain/right-brain theory has long been debunked by the scientific community, but the myth still lives on. We all want to understand what is happening in that oh-so-amazing-and-intricate brain inside of our heads. What does it look like while we’re creating, or when we’re stressed, or when we’re doing something we love?

At Adobe MAX – our creativity conference – there were more than 11,000 wildly creative minds from around the world. It was the perfect place for “Your Brain on MAX,” the social media experience we built to tap into the minds of attendees to show off their brains at work.

The first, and maybe most important part of “Your Brain on MAX” was to accurately measure brain activity. We worked with EMOTIV, a company that develops brain-computer interfaces that can detect brain activity and human conscious on electronic platforms based on electroencephalography (EEG). Although there were a number of different emotions we could have measured that impact brain activity, we concentrated our experience on five: Focus, Excitement, Interest, Engagement and Stress.

Now that we had a way to read the brain activity, we needed to visually interpret and express all the data points. So, we tapped designer Luke Choice to help us visualize the brain and define the animations that would best capture the real-time brain state changes that would occur as people create.


MAX attendees lined up to create using our Creative Cloud mobile apps, and we placed EMOTIV’s Insight headset on them to record their brain activity, which translated into unique animations of their brain.






 Everyone who participated in “Your Brain on MAX” received a 15-second video of their brain at work. Some people we’re quite calm, some very focused and even some a little stressed – yet everyone was wonderfully unique and thanks to Luke’s work, everyone’s brain looked gorgeous.

Watch the full experience.