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I co-hosted a workshop salon and performance with my longtime friend on the neuroscience/practice of freestyle rap and improvisation on Interintellect. Interintellect is dedicated to hosting the most interesting conversations on the internet across disciplines and nations.

The world in the next few decades will look vastly — almost immeasurably — different from today. As we transition into a more complex world, we’ll need a broader intersection of knowledge, skills and abilities. More professionals will require lateral thinking and a breadth of experience. So how do we cultivate a sense of mental flexibility? Freestyle rap and other forms of improvisation activate the medial prefrontal cortex, which is designed for building associative context between concepts, time and memories, Improvisation also turns off the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which is designed for limited attention and judgment (even toward the self).

So how can we build a world with more flexible, creative and imaginative thinkers who will be more equipped to solve the problems of tomorrow?

To answer this question, we led a group of neuroscientists, technologists, researchers and writers in some exercises around improvisation and freestyle, sharing research on its cognitive impacts and then going into a salon format about how improvisational thinking can help us meet the challenges of an ever-complex future. Several people called it “The best Zoom they’ve ever experienced.”