Ever wonder where your favorite artists get their inspiration? The answer could be nicotine. Scientists have long known that hair-like extensions called axons allow information to travel between brain cells. Researchers have now discovered that axons are not merely passive information transmitters. On the contrary, the right stimulation can help axons turn the signal up or down. Nicotine can serve as that stimulation.
The discovery that axons are responsible for complex information processing is a new one. Scientists previously thought that axons worked like wires transmitting radio signals, but recent findings revealed that the signal could be altered, much like tuning a radio knob.
A group of scientists tested this hypothesis with an experiment. The study used nicotine to stimulate the axon, and researchers then analyzed its effect on a signal sent from the brain cell to the cortex. Without nicotine, approximately 35% of the signals sent from the brain cell reached the cortex. However, applying nicotine increased the success rate to about 70%, almost double the first rate. The discovery that nicotine activates the proteins that scientists think are on the axon presents a completely new idea about how the brain functions.
Nicotine and Creativity
Want real life evidence of this new finding? Take a look at famous writers Kurt Vonnegut and Stephen King. Vonnegut, who wrote 14 novels, often insisted that smoking sped up his creative process. King, who has more than 50 novels under his belt, has complained that giving up smoking made him a slower writer. These hugely successful artists both partially attribute their successful creative process to nicotine.
Another part of smoking that might aid in creativity is the smoke break. Taking a mental break and enjoying a breath of fresh air outdoors have both been shown to boost creativity and productivity. Additionally, when smokers head outside for a smoke break, they also enjoy the benefits of time spent outdoors, which can often enhance attention spans and lower levels of stress.
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