Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Brain correlates of our ability to think creatively

I am passing on the significance statements (the links take you to the whole abstracts) from two fascinating pieces on the brain correlates of our ability to think creatively. First, from Beaty et al.:
People’s capacity to generate creative ideas is central to technological and cultural progress. Despite advances in the neuroscience of creativity, the field lacks clarity on whether a specific neural architecture distinguishes the highly creative brain. Using methods in network neuroscience, we modeled individual creative thinking ability as a function of variation in whole-brain functional connectivity. We identified a brain network associated with creative ability comprised of regions within default, salience, and executive systems—neural circuits that often work in opposition. Across four independent datasets, we show that a person’s capacity to generate original ideas can be reliably predicted from the strength of functional connectivity within this network, indicating that creative thinking ability is characterized by a distinct brain connectivity profile.
Then, from Kenett et al.:
Creative thinking requires flexibility, which facilitates the creation of novel and innovative ideas. However, so far its role in creativity has been measured via indirect measures. We propose a quantitative measure of flexibility based on the robustness of semantic memory networks to attack, assuming that the higher robustness, the higher the flexibility of the network. We show how the semantic network of high creative individuals is more robust to attack, thus more flexible. This is a direct computational investigation on flexibility of semantic memory and creativity. Our approach can be applied to more general questions such as high-level cognitive capacities and clinical populations suffering from atypical thought processes.

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