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Gary Small, M.D., is Chair of Psychiatry at Hackensack University Medical Center, and Physician in Chief for Behavioral Health Services at Hackensack Meridian Health.

Tags: MRI | creativity | frontal lobe

Brain Areas That Control Creativity

By Tuesday, 25 October 2016 04:02 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Because innovative people have a gift for making connections between different ideas, some studies have focused on brain activity when we let our minds wander. Other research has pinpointed neural stimulation during word association tasks.

Some of these investigations measure brain changes in geniuses, while other work focuses on the creativity of average individuals.

Using functional MRI scanning, Dr. Andreasen and her colleagues studied highly creative people engaged in novel mental tasks.

They demonstrated that brains become very active in an area known as the association cortex.

This brain region comprises most of the outer layer of cells closest to the skull, and is responsible for the complex mental processing that links the brain’s sensory input and resulting behaviors.

High activity has been observed in the association cortex during artistic and scientific creativity.

Studies of professional musicians have further pinpointed areas of the brain involved in creative activity.

Also using MRI scanning, investigators compared brain activity of jazz pianists while they improvised or memorized musical compositions.

While improvising, the musicians’ brains show high activity in areas that control language, sensation, and motor function, as well as a frontal lobe region involved in introspection.

Decreased brain activity during improvisation is observed in another area of the frontal lobe that controls planning and inhibition.

Creative thinking involves letting go of cognitive control to some extent.

When that occurs, the brain is taken over by an area known as the default mode network — areas of frontal, parietal and temporal cortex that control daydreaming and spontaneous thought.

After performing structural MRI scans on research volunteers, scientists asked them to think of as many ways as they could to use a brick, which served as a proxy measure of creativity.

Volunteers with the largest default mode networks thought of the most creative uses for bricks.

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Because innovative people have a gift for making connections between different ideas, some studies have focused on brain activity when we let our minds wander.
MRI, creativity, frontal lobe
Tuesday, 25 October 2016 04:02 PM
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