My brain on Improv.

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Hello again, Wonderful Peeps!

Wanna see my brain, captured in the act of Improvising?



This image was taken while I was inside an fMRI (functional MRI) machine, as part of a study on what happens to our brains when we are improvising.

An Improv Genius friend of mine, the one and only Mr. Anthony Veneziale, was inspired by a TedTalk by Dr. Charles Limb, a researcher looking into creativity as a neurologic process.

In his talk, Dr. Limb presented his research with jazz musicians, asking the question, what happens to our brains when we are being spontaneous?

Here’s what he found..

“..we think that at least a reasonable hypothesis is that, to be creative, you should have this weird dissociation in your frontal lobe. One area turns on, and a big area shuts off, so that you’re not inhibited, you’re willing to make mistakes, so that you’re not constantly shutting down all of these new generative impulses.”
– Dr. Charles Limb

The second group he studied were freestyle rappers.

Dr. Limb tapped Anthony to help with his latest subjects, Improv Comedians, which is how my melon ended up in that fMRI.


The researchers gave me four categories and in each category there were Control Responses (something we already know by heart) and Improv Responses.

Researcher says “Category.  Monologue. Control.”
I respond by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance for 60 seconds
Researcher says:  “Category.  Monologue.  Improv.  Bread.”
I respond by making up a monologue inspired by bread for 60 seconds.

It was super fun to do.  The biggest challenge was keeping my face from moving too much while doing the Improv portions.

Testing is ongoing and when it’s done, we will get to see a combined result of all of the Improviser’s data.

I’m sure curious about what’s happening in our brains while doing  Improv.  I don’t imagine we will ever have a scientific formula to create Improv Magic.  And maybe that’s good news.

If you’re hungry for some opportunities to let those generative impulses of yours fly free, (ie: to do some Improv), check out the offerings below.  Fun will be had.

Have a marvelous, restful, joyful summer.  You deserve it.

Big Love,



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