09/03/2015 10:00 GMT | Updated 09/03/2015 10:00 GMT

Unable To Concentrate Around Noisy Colleagues? It Could Be A Sign That You're A Genius

If the sound of your colleague munching on crisps drives you barmy, you could be a genius.

That's according to new research, which has uncovered a link between creative intelligence and the inability to block out noise.

Scientists at Northwestern University, Illinois, asked 100 people to answer questions on their real-life creative achievements.

The participants were then tested on their ability to find original solutions to problems.

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On this second test, participants were asked to provide as many answers as they could to several unlikely scenarios, within a limited amount of time.

The number and the novelty of participants' responses was analysed to comprise a "divergent thinking score".

As a result, the researchers had two different measures of creativity: real-world creative achievements and a laboratory measure of divergent thinking.

In the divergent thinking test, high scores were linked with an ability to shut out surrounding sound.

Those with higher levels of real-life creative achievement were shown to be less able to block out sound.

"If funneled in the right direction, these sensitivities can make life more rich and meaningful, giving experiences more subtlety," said Zabelina, a Ph.D. candidate in psychology at Northwestern said in a new release.

But the downsides to such sensory distraction have been well noted by some of the world's most creative thinkers.

One of the most influential novelists of the 20th century, Kafka famously said: "I need solitude for my writing. Not like a hermit, that wouldn't be enough - but like a dead man."

Darwin, Chekhov and Johan Goethe also strongly lamented the distracting nature of noise.

The latest results seem to contradict those of a previous study by US researchers which linked an ability to block out distractions to high IQ.

The study showed that as person's IQ increases, so too does his or her ability to filter out distracting background motion and concentrate on the foreground.

H/T: Eureka Alert

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