Balder Onarheim

Balder Onarheim is a former Associate Professor in creativity at the Technical University of Denmark. He holds a Master's degree in Industrial Design from the Oslo School of Architecture and Design and a PHD on “Creativity under Constraints" from Copenhagen Business School. His research is focused on creativity training and teaching creativity. His professional background is in engineering design, medical equipment design, and innovation strategy consulting.[1]

Neurobiology and creativityEdit

In an article from 2013 Onarheim and Morten Friis-Olivarius investigates how neuroscience in general, and neuroscience of creativity in particular, can be used in teaching “applied creativity”. They base this on empirical data from the Applied NeuroCreativity program, taught at Copenhagen Business School Denmark and Sauder School of Business in Canada, in which they introduce the participants to cognitive concepts of creativity, and ask them to apply said concepts to an actual creative problem, they are having.[2] In the program, the conceptualization of creativity is built on neuroscience, and the participants are given a thorough understanding of the neuroscience of creativity. Previous studies have shown that the conceptualization of creativity used in such training is of major importance for the success of the training.[3] Onarheim and Friis-Olivarius present pre/post-training tests showing that participants have increased their divergent thinking skills with an individual relative average of 28.5%, suggesting that principles from neuroscience can contribute effectively to creativity training and produce measurable results on creativity tests.[4]

Entrepreneurial VenturesEdit

Balder Onarheim is the founder of the Copenhagen Institute of NeuroCreativity[5] and the CEO at PlatoScience, manufacturer of tDCS neurostimulation headsets.[6]

TEDx Talk 2015Edit

Balder Onarheim is a regular speaker at conferences and universities around the world e.g. Denmark, Norway, Canada, UK, Japan, Australia, Netherlands, Finland, Czech Republic and New Zealand.

In November 2014 Onarheim spoke on the subject '3 Tools To Become More Creative' at a TEDx talk[7] in Copenhagen, Denmark. During the talk, Onarheim gave three examples of how to relearn creativity as adults. The theory is that as we grow up we forget how to be creative.

In order to regain our creativity as adults, we can challenge ourselves to get it back by using very simple methods. Firstly, we can use continuous practice of random thoughts. According to Onarheim, randomness is closely related to being creative, (Source) thus one way of practising creativeness is by thinking of 3 random words once a day. Each word has to be completely unrelated to the one before. Studies of freestyle rap hip hop artists have shown that they possess this skill and have high scores on creativity tests.[8]

Secondly, we can use REM sleep for creative problem solving by thinking of a problem right before we fall asleep, as well as possible tools needed to solve the issue (not the solution itself). This may improve the chance of dreaming about the problem without the normal restraints. When waking up, participants can take notes of the dreams to see if new solutions towards solving have arisen.

The third and last method to boost creativity in adults, is also related to randomness. Onarheim claims that as adults we tend to associate one word with other words and things. When faced with a problem we can make use of the random button in Wikipedia to provide seemingly unrelated information, which can be used to progress in the problem solving.[9]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Onarheim, B., & Biskjaer, M. M. (2013). An Introduction to 'Creativity Constraints'. In Proceedings of the XXIV ISPIM - - Conference–Innovating in Global Markets: Challenges for Sustainable Growth (ISPIM 2013) (pp. 16-19).
  3. ^ Scott, G., Leritz, L. E., & Mumford, M. D. (2004). The effectiveness of creativity training: A quantitative review. Creativity Research Journal, 16(4), 361-388.
  4. ^ Onarheim, B., and Friis-Olivarius, M. (2013). Applying the neuroscience of creativity to creativity training. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7(656). doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00656
  5. ^ Lu, Denice, August 2013. Why Denmark's Innovation Strategy Won't Work Anywhere Else Mashable.
  6. ^ "PlatoScience – World class neurostimulation devices". PlatoScience. Retrieved 2021-08-21.
  7. ^ Onarheim, B (2015) TEDx Talk Copenhagen:
  8. ^ Weller, Chris Feb. 2015. ‘The Neuroscience Of Freestyle Rap: How Creativity Pathways Give Us The Gift Of Improv’. Medical Daily.
  9. ^ algeirsdóttir, D., and Onarheim, B. (2014). Assessment Within Educational Settings: The Creative Process. Proceedings of Creative Engagements: Thinking with Children Conference.