Prefrontal cortex involvement in creative problem solving in middle adolescence and adulthood.
ABSTRACT: Creative cognition, defined as the generation of new yet appropriate ideas and solutions, serves important adaptive purposes. Here, we tested whether and how middle adolescence, characterized by transformations toward life independency and individuality, is a more profitable phase than adulthood for creative cognition. Behavioral and neural differences for creative problem solving in adolescents (15-17 years) and adults (25-30 years) were measured while performing a matchstick problem task (MPT) in the scanner and the creative ability test (CAT), a visuo-spatial divergent thinking task, outside the scanner. Overall performances were comparable, although MPT performance indicated an advantage for adolescents in creative problem solving. In addition, adolescents showed more activation in lateral prefrontal cortex (ventral and dorsal) during creative problem solving compared to adults. These areas correlated with performances on the MPT and the CAT performance. We discuss that extended prefrontal cortex activation in adolescence is important for exploration and aids in creative cognition.
Project description:Creativity refers to the ability to generate novel associations and has been linked to better problem-solving and real-world functional abilities. In younger adults, creative cognition has been associated with functional connectivity among brain networks implicated in executive control [fronto-parietal network (FPN) and salience network (SN)] and associative or elaborative processing default network (DN). Here, we investigate whether creativity is associated with the intrinsic network architecture of the brain and how these associations may differ for younger and older adults. Young (mean age: 24.76, n = 22) and older (mean age: 70.03, n = 44) adults underwent multi-echo functional magnetic resonance image scanning at rest and completed a divergent-thinking task to assess creative cognition outside the scanner. Divergent thinking in older adults, compared to young adults, was associated with functional connectivity between the default and both executive control networks (FPN and SN) as well as more widespread default-executive coupling. Finally, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex appears to be a critical node involved in within- and between-network connectivity associated with creative cognition in older adulthood. Patterns of intrinsic network coupling revealed here suggest a putative neural mechanism underlying a greater role for mnemonic processes in creative cognition in older adulthood.
Project description:Stress and threats have been shown to influence our cognition and performance. In a preregistered online experiment (<i>N</i> = 446), we examined whether thinking about the ongoing covid-19 pandemic influences creative (insight problem solving) and analytic thinking. We found no support for our a-priori hypothesized effect (decrease in insight problem solving and no change in analytical thinking), however, several unpredicted results emerged. Exploratory analyses revealed that both types of thinking were harmed, yet only in men. Interestingly, the effect of exposure on thinking about covid-19 was indirect and led to careless task completion - again, only in men. We discuss these intriguing results and propose potential explanations along with future studies directions.
Project description:Significant improvements in cognitive control occur from childhood through adolescence, supported by the maturation of prefrontal systems. However, less is known about the neural basis of refinements in cognitive control proceeding from adolescence to adulthood. Accumulating evidence indicates that integration between hippocampus (HPC) and prefrontal cortex (PFC) supports flexible cognition and has a protracted neural maturation. Using a longitudinal design (487 scans), we characterized developmental changes from 8 to 32 years of age in HPC-PFC functional connectivity at rest and its associations with cognitive development. Results indicated significant increases in functional connectivity between HPC and ventromedial PFC (vmPFC), but not dorsolateral PFC. Importantly, HPC-vmPFC connectivity exclusively predicted performance on the Stockings of Cambridge task, which probes problem solving and future planning. These data provide evidence that maturation of high-level cognition into adulthood is supported by increased functional integration across the HPC and vmPFC through adolescence.
Project description:Creativity enables humans to adapt flexibly to changing circumstances, to manage complex social relations and to survive and prosper through social, technological and medical innovations. In humans, chronic, trait-based as well as temporary, state-based approach orientation has been linked to increased capacity for divergent rather than convergent thinking, to more global and holistic processing styles and to more original ideation and creative problem solving. Here, we link creative cognition to oxytocin, a hypothalamic neuropeptide known to up-regulate approach orientation in both animals and humans. Study 1 (N = 492) showed that plasma oxytocin predicts novelty-seeking temperament. Study 2 (N = 110) revealed that genotype differences in a polymorphism in the oxytocin receptor gene rs1042778 predicted creative ideation, with GG/GT-carriers being more original than TT-carriers. Using double-blind placebo-controlled between-subjects designs, Studies 3-6 (N = 191) finally showed that intranasal oxytocin (vs matching placebo) reduced analytical reasoning, and increased holistic processing, divergent thinking and creative performance. We conclude that the oxytonergic circuitry sustains and enables the day-to-day creativity humans need for survival and prosperity and discuss implications.
Project description:Creative insight occurs with an "Aha!" experience when solving a difficult problem. Here, we investigated large-scale networks associated with insight problem solving. We recruited 232 healthy participants aged 21-69 years old. Participants completed a magnetic resonance imaging study (MRI; structural imaging and a 10?min resting-state functional MRI) and an insight test battery (ITB) consisting of written questionnaires (matchstick arithmetic task, remote associates test, and insight problem solving task). To identify the resting-state functional connectivity (RSFC) associated with individual creative insight, we conducted an exploratory voxel-based morphometry (VBM)-constrained RSFC analysis. We identified positive correlations between ITB score and grey matter volume (GMV) in the right insula and middle cingulate cortex/precuneus, and a negative correlation between ITB score and GMV in the left cerebellum crus 1 and right supplementary motor area. We applied seed-based RSFC analysis to whole brain voxels using the seeds obtained from the VBM and identified insight-positive/negative connections, i.e. a positive/negative correlation between the ITB score and individual RSFCs between two brain regions. Insight-specific connections included motor-related regions whereas creative-common connections included a default mode network. Our results indicate that creative insight requires a coupling of multiple networks, such as the default mode, semantic and cerebral-cerebellum networks.
Project description:This study simulates the team cognition model through NetLogo 6.0.2 to view a dynamic changing of team creativity during knowledge sharing when the team members perform problem-solving tasks. A hypothesis is proposed: (a) when people possess various characteristics, members who own high-level normal knowledge and have high communication frequency are suited to perform problem construction process and members who own high-level creative knowledge and have less communication frequency are suited to perform divergent exploration process; (b) member flow that old-timer is replaced by a new member, can improve the team creativity and keep it more stable. The team cognition model is based on the social network of the team, where members are assigned cognition tasks. Also, the simulation experiments are conducted in 6 conditions and each condition has one situation including "MemberFlow" procedure, and one excluding "MemberFlow" procedure. Each experiment contains 500 repetitive experiments and in each repetition, there are 100 steps of "GO" procedure are performed. The results show that the team creativity is maximal and stable in the condition of hypothesis (a), and member flow can optimize the team creativity.
Project description:The scientific approach to the study of creative problem solving has shifted from using classic insight problems (e.g., the <i>Nine-dots</i> problem), towards sets of problems that have more robust psychometric properties, such as the Remote Associate Test (RAT). Because it is homogeneous, compact, quickly solvable, and easy to score, the RAT has been used more frequently in recent creativity studies. We applied the Item Response Theory (IRT) to develop an Italian version of this task. The final 51-item test was reliable (? = .89) and provided information over a wide range of ability levels, as revealed by the IRT analysis. The RAT correlated with five measures of creative performance: The Raven's Standard Progressive Matrices (SPM), three classic insight problems, a set of anagrams purposefully developed, the fluency and flexibility scores of the Alternative Uses Task (AUT), and the Creative Achievements Questionnaire (CAQ). The new measure provided is meant to encourage the study of creativity and problem solving in the Italian language.
Project description:The prevalence of depression rises steeply during adolescence. Family processes have been identified as one of the important factors that contribute to affect (dys)regulation during adolescence. In this study, we explored the affect expressed by mothers, fathers, and adolescents during a problem-solving interaction and investigated whether the patterns of the affective interactions differed between families with depressed adolescents and families with nondepressed adolescents. A network approach was used to depict the frequencies of different affects, concurrent expressions of affect, and the temporal sequencing of affective behaviors among family members. The findings show that families of depressed adolescents express more anger than families of nondepressed adolescents during the interaction. These expressions of anger co-occur and interact across time more often in families with a depressed adolescent than in other families, creating a more self-sustaining network of angry negative affect in depressed families. Moreover, parents' angry and adolescents' dysphoric affect follow each other more often in depressed families. Taken together, these patterns reveal a particular family dynamic that may contribute to vulnerability to, or maintenance of, adolescent depressive disorders. Our findings underline the importance of studying affective family interactions to understand adolescent depression.
Project description:Changes in adolescent interpersonal behavior before and after an acute course of psychotherapy were investigated as outcomes and mediators of remission status in a previously described treatment study of depressed adolescents. Maternal depressive symptoms were examined as moderators of the association between psychotherapy condition and changes in adolescents' interpersonal behavior.Adolescents (n = 63, mean age = 15.6 years, 77.8% female, 84.1% White) engaged in videotaped interactions with their mothers before randomization to cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), systemic behavior family therapy (SBFT), or nondirective supportive therapy (NST) and after 12-16 weeks of treatment. Adolescent involvement, problem solving, and dyadic conflict were examined.Improvements in adolescent problem solving were significantly associated with CBT and SBFT. Maternal depressive symptoms moderated the effect of CBT, but not SBFT, on adolescents' problem solving; adolescents experienced increases in problem solving only when their mothers had low or moderate levels of depressive symptoms. Improvements in adolescents' problem solving were associated with higher rates of remission across treatment conditions, but there were no significant indirect effects of SBFT on remission status through problem solving. Exploratory analyses revealed a significant indirect effect of CBT on remission status through changes in adolescent problem solving, but only when maternal depressive symptoms at study entry were low.Findings provide preliminary support for problem solving as an active treatment component of structured psychotherapies for depressed adolescents and suggest one pathway by which maternal depression may disrupt treatment efficacy for depressed adolescents treated with CBT.
Project description:Re-representation is a critical ability to (i) understanding human creative problem solving, and (ii) modeling computational cognitive systems able to support or perform creative problem solving tasks on their own. This paper proposes a unified multi-level cognitive approach to investigating re-representation: the study of sensory-based, concept-based and problem template based possible forms of re-representations in an integrated manner. Descriptions and explanations of each level prepare the ground for further computational modeling. A study is deployed in order to explore the relationship between the various tasks proposed to reflect re-representation. A significant correlation between the investigated tasks is discovered. Two previous studies from the literature are replicated. A new strong and significant relationship between the Pattern Meanings Test and the Alternative Uses Test is observed.