Creativity and Memory: Effects of an Episodic-Specificity Induction on Divergent Thinking.
ABSTRACT: People produce more episodic details when imagining future events and solving means-end problems after receiving an episodic-specificity induction-brief training in recollecting details of a recent event-than after receiving a control induction not focused on episodic retrieval. Here we show for the first time that an episodic-specificity induction also enhances divergent creative thinking. In Experiment 1, participants exhibited a selective boost on a divergent-thinking task (generating unusual uses of common objects) after a specificity induction compared with a control induction; by contrast, performance following the two inductions was similar on an object association task thought to involve little divergent thinking. In Experiment 2, we replicated the specificity-induction effect on divergent thinking using a different control induction, and also found that participants performed similarly on a convergent-thinking task following the two inductions. These experiments provide novel evidence that episodic memory is involved in divergent creative thinking.
Project description:Recent research has suggested that an episodic specificity induction-brief training in recollecting the details of a past experience-enhances divergent creative thinking on the alternate uses task (AUT) in young adults, without affecting performance on tasks thought to involve little divergent thinking; however, the generalizability of these results to other populations and tasks is unknown. In the present experiments, we examined whether the effects of an episodic specificity induction would extend to older adults and a different index of divergent thinking, the consequences task. In Experiment 1, the specificity induction significantly enhanced divergent thinking on the AUT in both young and older adults, as compared with a control induction not requiring specific episodic retrieval; performance on a task involving little divergent thinking (generating associates for common objects) did not vary as a function of induction. No overall age-related differences were observed on either task. In Experiment 2, the specificity induction significantly enhanced divergent thinking (in terms of generating consequences of novel scenarios) in young adults, relative to another control induction not requiring episodic retrieval. To examine the types of creative ideas affected by the induction, the participants in both experiments also labeled each of their divergent-thinking responses as an "old idea" from memory or a "new idea" from imagination. New, and to some extent old, ideas were significantly boosted following the specificity induction relative to the control. These experiments provide novel evidence that an episodic specificity induction can boost divergent thinking in young and older adults, and indicate that episodic memory is involved in multiple divergent-thinking tasks.
Project description:Prior research has suggested that an episodic specificity induction - brief training in recollecting the details of a past event - affects downstream performance on remembering past and imagining future events, solving problems, and thinking creatively. We have hypothesised that a process common to these tasks that the induction may target is event construction - assembling and maintaining a mental scenario filled with details related to settings, people, and actions. We test this hypothesis by having participants receive a memory specificity induction, imagination specificity induction, or control induction not requiring event construction prior to memory and imagination tasks that involve event construction, and a picture description task that involves describing but not mentally constructing an event. We predicted that induction effects would be specific to episodic detail production on subsequent memory and imagination because these details assay critical elements of a constructed event. In line with an event construction account, the two specificity inductions produced significant and indistinguishable increases in the number of episodic - but not semantic - details generated during memory and imagination relative to the control. Induction did not increase detail generation on picture description. The findings provide novel evidence that event construction is a key process targeted by specificity inductions.
Project description:Cognitive and neuroimaging evidence suggests that episodic and semantic memory-memory for autobiographical events and conceptual knowledge, respectively-support different aspects of creative thinking, with a growing number of studies reporting activation of brain regions within the default network during performance on creative thinking tasks. The present research sought to dissociate neural contributions of these memory processes by inducing episodic or semantic retrieval orientations prior to performance on a divergent thinking task during fMRI. We conducted a representational similarity analysis (RSA) to identify multivoxel patterns of neural activity that were similar across induction (episodic and semantic) and idea generation. At the behavioral level, we found that semantic induction was associated with increased idea originality, assessed via computational estimates of semantic distance between concepts. RSA revealed that multivoxel patterns during semantic induction and subsequent idea generation were more similar (compared to episodic induction) within the left angular gyrus (AG), posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), and left anterior inferior parietal lobe (IPL). Conversely, activity patterns during episodic induction and subsequent generation were more similar within left parahippocampal gyrus and right anterior IPL. Together, the findings point to dissociable contributions of episodic and semantic memory processes to creative cognition and suggest that distinct regions within the default network support specific memory-related processes during divergent thinking.
Project description:Prior functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies indicate that a core network of brain regions, including the hippocampus, is jointly recruited during episodic memory, episodic simulation, and divergent creative thinking. Because fMRI data are correlational, it is unknown whether activity increases in the hippocampus, and the core network more broadly, play a causal role in episodic simulation and divergent thinking. Here we employed fMRI-guided transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to assess whether temporary disruption of hippocampal brain networks impairs both episodic simulation and divergent thinking. For each of two TMS sessions, continuous ?-burst stimulation (cTBS) was applied to either a control site (vertex) or to a left angular gyrus target region. The target region was identified on the basis of a participant-specific resting-state functional connectivity analysis with a hippocampal seed region previously associated with memory, simulation, and divergent thinking. Following cTBS, participants underwent fMRI and performed a simulation, divergent thinking, and nonepisodic control task. cTBS to the target region reduced the number of episodic details produced for the simulation task and reduced idea production on divergent thinking. Performance in the control task did not statistically differ as a function of cTBS site. fMRI analyses revealed a selective and simultaneous reduction in hippocampal activity during episodic simulation and divergent thinking following cTBS to the angular gyrus versus vertex but not during the nonepisodic control task. Our findings provide evidence that hippocampal-targeted TMS can specifically modulate episodic simulation and divergent thinking, and suggest that the hippocampus is critical for these cognitive functions.
Project description:Interventions that increase the specificity of episodic memory and future-oriented problem solving have been shown to help both young adults and clinical populations regulate their emotions toward potential stressors. However, little is known about how episodic specificity impacts anxiety levels in older adults, who show reduced specificity of episodic memory, future simulation, and problem-solving performance. Although emotion regulation generally improves with age, older adults still experience worries pertaining to their health and interpersonal relationships. The current studies test how episodic specificity affects emotion regulation in older adults. In Experiment 1, participants received an episodic specificity induction (ESI)-brief training in recollecting details of past experiences-prior to generating steps to solve worrisome problems. Older adults provided more relevant steps and episodic details after the specificity induction relative to a control induction, but we found no difference in emotion regulation ratings between induction conditions. In Experiment 2, we contrasted performance on a personal problem-solving task (i.e., generating steps to solve one's own problems) intended to draw on episodic retrieval with an advice task focused on semantic processing (i.e., listing general advice for an acquaintance worried about similar problems). Participants provided more relevant steps and episodic details in the personal problem-solving task relative to the advice task, and boosts in detail were related to larger reductions in anxiety toward the target worrisome events. These results indicate that solving worrisome problems with greater levels of episodic detail can positively influence emotion regulation in older adults. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).
Project description:Episodic memory plays an important role not only in remembering past experiences, but also in constructing simulations of future experiences and solving means-end social problems. We recently found that an episodic specificity induction-brief training in recollecting details of past experiences-enhances performance of young and older adults on memory and imagination tasks. Here we tested the hypothesis that this specificity induction would also positively impact a means-end problem-solving task on which age-related changes have been linked to impaired episodic memory. Young and older adults received the specificity induction or a control induction before completing a means-end problem-solving task, as well as memory and imagination tasks. Consistent with previous findings, older adults provided fewer relevant steps on problem solving than did young adults, and their responses also contained fewer internal (i.e., episodic) details across the 3 tasks. There was no difference in the number of other (e.g., irrelevant) steps on problem solving or external (i.e., semantic) details generated on the 3 tasks as a function of age. Critically, the specificity induction increased the number of relevant steps and internal details (but not other steps or external details) that both young and older adults generated in problem solving compared with the control induction, as well as the number of internal details (but not external details) generated for memory and imagination. Our findings support the idea that episodic retrieval processes are involved in means-end problem solving, extend the range of tasks on which a specificity induction targets these processes, and show that the problem-solving performance of older adults can benefit from a specificity induction as much as that of young adults.
Project description:Previous research has demonstrated that an episodic specificity induction--brief training in recollecting details of a recent experience--enhances performance on various subsequent tasks thought to draw upon episodic memory processes. Existing work has also shown that mental simulation can be beneficial for emotion regulation and coping with stressors. Here we focus on understanding how episodic detail can affect problem solving, reappraisal, and psychological well-being regarding worrisome future events. In Experiment 1, an episodic specificity induction significantly improved participants' performance on a subsequent means-end problem solving task (i.e., more relevant steps) and an episodic reappraisal task (i.e., more episodic details) involving personally worrisome future events compared with a control induction not focused on episodic specificity. Imagining constructive behaviors with increased episodic detail via the specificity induction was also related to significantly larger decreases in anxiety, perceived likelihood of a bad outcome, and perceived difficulty to cope with a bad outcome, as well as larger increases in perceived likelihood of a good outcome and indicated use of active coping behaviors compared with the control. In Experiment 2, we extended these findings using a more stringent control induction, and found preliminary evidence that the specificity induction was related to an increase in positive affect and decrease in negative affect compared with the control. Our findings support the idea that episodic memory processes are involved in means-end problem solving and episodic reappraisal, and that increasing the episodic specificity of imagining constructive behaviors regarding worrisome events may be related to improved psychological well-being.
Project description:A critical adaptive feature of future thinking involves the ability to generate alternative versions of possible future events. However, little is known about the nature of the processes that support this ability. Here we examined whether an episodic specificity induction - brief training in recollecting details of a recent experience that selectively impacts tasks that draw on episodic retrieval - (1) boosts alternative event generation and (2) changes one's initial perceptions of negative future events. In Experiment 1, an episodic specificity induction significantly increased the number of alternative positive outcomes that participants generated to a series of standardized negative events, compared with a control induction not focused on episodic specificity. We also observed larger decreases in the perceived plausibility and negativity of the original events in the specificity condition, where participants generated more alternative outcomes, relative to the control condition. In Experiment 2, we replicated and extended these findings using a series of personalized negative events. Our findings support the idea that episodic memory processes are involved in generating alternative outcomes to anticipated future events, and that boosting the number of alternative outcomes is related to subsequent changes in the perceived plausibility and valence of the original events, which may have implications for psychological well-being.
Project description:Recalling and imagining autobiographical experiences involves constructing event representations within spatiotemporal contexts. We tested whether generating autobiographical events within a primarily spatial (where the event occurred) or temporal (the sequence of actions that occurred) context affected how the associated mental representation was constructed. We leveraged the well-validated episodic specificity induction (ESI) technique, known to influence the use of episodic processes on subsequent tasks, to develop variants that selectively enhance spatial or temporal processing. We tested the effects of these inductions on the details used to describe past and future autobiographical events. We first replicated the standard ESI effect, showing that ESI enhances generating episodic details, particularly those that are perception-based, when describing autobiographical events (Experiment 1). We then directly compared the effects of the spatial and temporal inductions (Experiment 2 and 3). When describing autobiographical events, spatial induction enhanced generating episodic details, specifically perception-based details, compared to the control or temporal inductions. A greater proportion of the episodic details generated after the temporal induction were gist-based than after the spatial induction, but this proportion did not differ from a control induction. Thus, using a spatial or temporal framework for autobiographical event generation alters the associated details that are accessed.
Project description:The present study examined the effect of distant temporal distance on creative thinking and the underlying motivation mechanism. We tested our hypotheses in four studies. In Studies 1-4, participants in the distant temporal distance opposed to the proximal temporal distance performed better on a series of creative thinking tasks: the Verbal Divergent Thinking Test (Study 1), the Chinese Remote Associates Test (Study 2), the Toy Design Task (Study 3) and the Ad Evaluation Task (Study 4). Moreover, Studies 2 and 3 found that promotion motivation mediated the beneficial effect of distant temporal distance on the performance of the two creative thinking tasks. In conclusion, distant temporal distance facilitated creative thinking, and promotion motivation mediated this beneficial effect.