Enhanced divergent thinking and creativity in musicians: a behavioral and near-infrared spectroscopy study.

Gibson C, Folley BS, Park S
Brain Cogn. 2009 69 (1): 162-9

PMID: 18723261 · DOI:10.1016/j.bandc.2008.07.009

Empirical studies of creativity have focused on the importance of divergent thinking, which supports generating novel solutions to loosely defined problems. The present study examined creativity and frontal cortical activity in an externally-validated group of creative individuals (trained musicians) and demographically matched control participants, using behavioral tasks and near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS). Experiment 1 examined convergent and divergent thinking with respect to intelligence and personality. Experiment 2 investigated frontal oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin concentration changes during divergent thinking with NIRS. Results of Experiment 1 indicated enhanced creativity in musicians who also showed increased verbal ability and schizotypal personality but their enhanced divergent thinking remained robust after co-varying out these two factors. In Experiment 2, NIRS showed greater bilateral frontal activity in musicians during divergent thinking compared with nonmusicians. Overall, these results suggest that creative individuals are characterized by enhanced divergent thinking, which is supported by increased frontal cortical activity.

MeSH Terms (15)

Adolescent Analysis of Variance Creativity Female Frontal Lobe Humans Intelligence Male Music Neuropsychological Tests Psychological Tests Schizotypal Personality Disorder Spectroscopy, Near-Infrared Verbal Behavior Young Adult

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