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In the world of artistic talent, nothing is more tangible than seeing the process in action - at high levels of speed - as watching a musician perform freestyle rap. It is at this time we can witness an individual create countless bursts of inspiration in a time-frame measured in milliseconds. Watching a hip-hop artist perform lyrics to a song they make up as they go along is as inspiring as it is mind-blowing.

Recently, The Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders conducted a study where they placed several professional rappers in an fMRI to scan their brains while they performed a freestyle rap to an 8-bar instrumental track. The researchers found that when the musicians were performing, their prefrontal cortex - the area in the brain that harbors much of what we know about creative processes - changed dramatically. The exact changes that took place were measured by, as Atlantic’s Lindsay Abrams puts it, an increase of “organization and drive...while those parts responsible for close self-monitoring and editing were deactivated.”

Essentially, the voice in the back of their heads criticizing their every move was turned off and they were able to enter an altered form of consciousness allowing their thoughts to flow freely from their brain to their mouths. This study not only sheds light on what is happening during the process of freestyle rap, it also explains what is occurring during all creative outlets in general.

Ever feel like there is an invisible force guiding you while you are working on your story/painting/sculpture and your thoughts and actions are beaming down from a higher level? It is this altered form of consciousness that researchers have discovered in hip-hop artists.

Whether you are onstage ripping apart the person in front of you in a rap battle, your brain is going through the same process as the person writing a poem about their childhood home. As soon as the critic is turned off, beautiful things are bound to happen.