Charting the contributions of cognitive flexibility to creativity: Self-guided transitions as a process-based index of creativity-related adaptivity.
ABSTRACT: Creativity is pivotal to solving complex problems of many kinds, yet how cognitive flexibility dynamically supports creative processes is largely unexplored. Despite being a crucial multi-faceted contributor in creative thinking, cognitive flexibility, as typically assessed, does not fully capture how people adaptively shift between varying or persisting in their current problem-solving efforts. To fill this theoretical and methodological gap, we introduce a new operationalization of cognitive flexibility: the process-based Self-Guided Transition (SGT) measures, which assess when participants autonomously choose to continue working on one of two concurrently presented items (dwell length) and how often they choose to switch between the two items (shift count). We examine how these measures correlate with three diverse creativity tasks, and with creative performance on a more complex "garden design" task. Analyses of the relations between these new cognitive flexibility measures in 66 young adults revealed that SGT dwell length positively correlated with creative performance across several tasks. The SGT shift count positively correlated with within-task performance for a two-item choice task tapping divergent thinking (Alternative Uses Task) but not for a two-item choice task calling on convergent thinking (Anagram task). Multiple regression analyses revealed that, taken together, both the shift count and dwell length measures from the Alternative Uses Task explained a significant proportion of variance in measures of fluency, and originality, on a composite measure of the three independently-assessed creative tasks. Relations of SGTs to the Garden Design task were weaker, though shift count on the Alternative Uses Task was predictive of a composite measure of overall Garden Design quality. Taken together, these results highlight the promise of our new process-based measures to better chart the dynamically flexible processes supporting creative thinking and action.
Project description:Organizations crucially need the creative talent of millennials but are reluctant to hire them because of their supposed lack of diligence. Recent studies have shown that hiring diligent millennials requires selecting those who score high on the Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT) and thus rely on effortful thinking rather than intuition. A central question is to assess whether the push for recruiting diligent millennials using criteria such as cognitive reflection can ultimately hamper the recruitment of creative workers. To answer this question, we study the relationship between millennials' creativity and their performance on fluid intelligence (Raven) and cognitive reflection (CRT) tests. The good news for recruiters is that we report, in line with previous research, evidence of a positive relationship of fluid intelligence, and to a lesser extent cognitive reflection, with convergent creative thinking. In addition, we observe a positive effect of fluid intelligence on originality and elaboration measures of divergent creative thinking. The bad news for recruiters is the inverted U-shape relationship between cognitive reflection and fluency and flexibility measures of divergent creative thinking. This suggests that thinking too much may hinder important dimensions of creative thinking. Diligent and creative workers may thus be a rare find.
Project description:The beneficial effects of regular physical activity (PA) on cognitive functions have received much attention. Recent research suggests that regular PA may also enhance creative thinking, an indispensable cognitive factor for invention and innovation. However, at what intensity regular PA brings the most benefits to creative thinking remains uninvestigated. Furthermore, whether the levels of regular PA affect the acute PA effects on creative thinking is also unclear. In the present study, using a previous dataset that investigated the effects of an acute bout of aerobic exercise on creative thinking in healthy Japanese young adults (22.98 ± 1.95 years old) in the year 2020, we tested the association between different intensities of regular PA (i.e., vigorous, moderate, and walking) and creative thinking with the cross-sectional baseline data using multiple linear regression. We also investigated whether regular PA levels were associated with the acute aerobic exercise intervention effects on creative thinking. The results showed that cross-sectionally, the regular PAs were differentially associated with divergent but not convergent thinking. Specifically, whereas the amount of vigorous-intensity PA was positively associated with fluency and flexibility, the amount of walking was positively associated with novelty on the alternate uses test (AUT) measuring divergent thinking. Importantly, the explained variances of fluency, flexibility, and novelty were 20.3% (<i>p</i> = 0.040), 18.8% (<i>p</i> = 0.055), and 20.1% (<i>p</i> = 0.043), respectively. None of the regular PAs predicted convergent thinking (i.e., an insight problem-solving task), nor were they associated with the acute aerobic exercise intervention effects on divergent and convergent thinking. These findings suggest that engaging in regular vigorous-intensity PA and walking may be useful strategies to enhance different aspects of divergent thinking in daily life.
Project description:Creativity is an essential cognitive ability linked to all areas of our everyday functioning. Thus, finding a way to enhance it is of broad interest. A large number of anecdotal reports suggest that the consumption of psychedelic drugs can enhance creative thinking; however, scientific evidence is lacking. Following a double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group design, we demonstrated that psilocybin (0.17 mg/kg) induced a time- and construct-related differentiation of effects on creative thinking. Acutely, psilocybin increased ratings of (spontaneous) creative insights, while decreasing (deliberate) task-based creativity. Seven days after psilocybin, number of novel ideas increased. Furthermore, we utilized an ultrahigh field multimodal brain imaging approach, and found that acute and persisting effects were predicted by within- and between-network connectivity of the default mode network. Findings add some support to historical claims that psychedelics can influence aspects of the creative process, potentially indicating them as a tool to investigate creativity and subsequent underlying neural mechanisms. Trial NL6007; psilocybin as a tool for enhanced cognitive flexibility; https://www.trialregister.nl/trial/6007 .
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.
Project description:People's ability to think creatively is a primary means of technological and cultural progress, yet the neural architecture of the highly creative brain remains largely undefined. Here, we employed a recently developed method in functional brain imaging analysis-connectome-based predictive modeling-to identify a brain network associated with high-creative ability, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data acquired from 163 participants engaged in a classic divergent thinking task. At the behavioral level, we found a strong correlation between creative thinking ability and self-reported creative behavior and accomplishment in the arts and sciences (r = 0.54). At the neural level, we found a pattern of functional brain connectivity related to high-creative thinking ability consisting of frontal and parietal regions within default, salience, and executive brain systems. In a leave-one-out cross-validation analysis, we show that this neural model can reliably predict the creative quality of ideas generated by novel participants within the sample. Furthermore, in a series of external validation analyses using data from two independent task fMRI samples and a large task-free resting-state fMRI sample, we demonstrate robust prediction of individual creative thinking ability from the same pattern of brain connectivity. The findings thus reveal a whole-brain network associated with high-creative ability comprised of cortical hubs within default, salience, and executive systems-intrinsic functional networks that tend to work in opposition-suggesting that highly creative people are characterized by the ability to simultaneously engage these large-scale brain networks.
Project description:Previous studies have found that bodily stimulation, such as hardness biases social judgment and evaluation via metaphorical association; however, it remains unclear whether bodily stimulation also affects cognitive functions, such as memory and creativity. The current study used metaphorical associations between "hard" and "rigid" and between "soft" and "flexible" in Chinese, to investigate whether the experience of hardness affects cognitive functions whose performance depends prospectively on rigidity (memory) and flexibility (creativity). In Experiment 1, we found that Chinese-speaking participants performed better at recalling previously memorized words while sitting on a hard-surface stool (the hard condition) than a cushioned one (the soft condition). In Experiment 2, participants sitting on a cushioned stool outperformed those sitting on a hard-surface stool on a Chinese riddle task, which required creative/flexible thinking, but not on an analogical reasoning task, which required both rigid and flexible thinking. The results suggest the hardness experience affects cognitive functions that are metaphorically associated with rigidity or flexibility. They support the embodiment proposition that cognitive functions and representations can be grounded in bodily states via metaphorical associations.
Project description:Functional connectivity studies have demonstrated that creative thinking builds upon an interplay of multiple neural networks involving the cognitive control system. Theoretically, cognitive control has generally been discussed as the common basis underlying the positive relationship between creative thinking and intelligence. However, the literature still lacks a detailed investigation of the association patterns between cognitive control, the factors of creative thinking as measured by divergent thinking (DT) tasks, i.e., fluency and originality, and intelligence, both fluid and crystallized. In the present study, we explored these relationships at the behavioral and the neural level, based on <i>N</i> = 77 young adults. We focused on brain-signal complexity (BSC), parameterized by multi-scale entropy (MSE), as measured during a verbal DT and a cognitive control task. We demonstrated that MSE is a sensitive neural indicator of originality as well as inhibition. Then, we explore the relationships between MSE and factor scores indicating DT and intelligence. In a series of across-scalp analyses, we show that the overall MSE measured during a DT task, as well as MSE measured in cognitive control states, are associated with fluency and originality at specific scalp locations, but not with fluid and crystallized intelligence. The present explorative study broadens our understanding of the relationship between creative thinking, intelligence, and cognitive control from the perspective of BSC and has the potential to inspire future BSC-related theories of creative thinking.
Project description: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:INTRODUCTION:Taking microdoses (a mere fraction of normal doses) of psychedelic substances, such as truffles, recently gained popularity, as it allegedly has multiple beneficial effects including creativity and problem-solving performance, potentially through targeting serotonergic 5-HT2A receptors and promoting cognitive flexibility, crucial to creative thinking. Nevertheless, enhancing effects of microdosing remain anecdotal, and in the absence of quantitative research on microdosing psychedelics, it is impossible to draw definitive conclusions on that matter. Here, our main aim was to quantitatively explore the cognitive-enhancing potential of microdosing psychedelics in healthy adults. METHODS:During a microdosing event organized by the Dutch Psychedelic Society, we examined the effects of psychedelic truffles (which were later analyzed to quantify active psychedelic alkaloids) on two creativity-related problem-solving tasks: the Picture Concept Task assessing convergent thinking and the Alternative Uses Task assessing divergent thinking. A short version of the Ravens Progressive Matrices task assessed potential changes in fluid intelligence. We tested once before taking a microdose and once while the effects were expected to be manifested. RESULTS:We found that both convergent and divergent thinking performance was improved after a non-blinded microdose, whereas fluid intelligence was unaffected. CONCLUSION:While this study provides quantitative support for the cognitive-enhancing properties of microdosing psychedelics, future research has to confirm these preliminary findings in more rigorous placebo-controlled study designs. Based on these preliminary results, we speculate that psychedelics might affect cognitive metacontrol policies by optimizing the balance between cognitive persistence and flexibility. We hope this study will motivate future microdosing studies with more controlled designs to test this hypothesis.
Project description:The role of attention in creative cognition remains controversial. Neuroimaging studies have reported activation of brain regions linked to both cognitive control and spontaneous imaginative processes, raising questions about how these regions interact to support creative thought. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we explored this question by examining dynamic interactions between brain regions during a divergent thinking task. Multivariate pattern analysis revealed a distributed network associated with divergent thinking, including several core hubs of the default (posterior cingulate) and executive (dorsolateral prefrontal cortex) networks. The resting-state network affiliation of these regions was confirmed using data from an independent sample of participants. Graph theory analysis assessed global efficiency of the divergent thinking network, and network efficiency was found to increase as a function of individual differences in divergent thinking ability. Moreover, temporal connectivity analysis revealed increased coupling between default and salience network regions (bilateral insula) at the beginning of the task, followed by increased coupling between default and executive network regions at later stages. Such dynamic coupling suggests that divergent thinking involves cooperation between brain networks linked to cognitive control and spontaneous thought, which may reflect focused internal attention and the top-down control of spontaneous cognition during creative idea production.