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Journal Article

Creative cognition and the brain: Dissociations between frontal, parietal–temporal and basal ganglia groups


Ott,  Derek V. M.
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Abraham, A., Beudt, S., Ott, D. V. M., & von Cramon, D. Y. (2012). Creative cognition and the brain: Dissociations between frontal, parietal–temporal and basal ganglia groups. Brain Research, 1482, 55-70. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2012.09.007.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-000E-B627-E
The objective of the study was to investigate creativity in relation to brain function by assessing creative thinking in various neurological populations. Several measures were employed to assess different facets of creative thinking in clinical groups with frontal lobe, basal ganglia or parietal–temporal lesions relative to matched healthy control participants. The frontal group was subdivided into frontolateral, frontopolar and frontal-extensive groups. Hierarchical regression analyses were employed to assess the significance levels associated with the effects after accounting for IQ differences between the groups. Findings were only considered noteworthy if they at least suggested the presence of a strong trend and were accompanied by medium to large effect sizes. The parietal–temporal and frontolateral groups revealed poorer overall performance with the former demonstrating problems with fluency related measures, whereas the latter were also less proficient at producing original responses. In contrast, the basal ganglia and frontopolar groups demonstrated superior performance in the ability to overcome the constraints imposed by salient semantic distractors when generating creative responses. In summary, the dissociations in the findings reveal the selective involvement of different brain regions in diverse aspects of creativity. Lesion location posed selective limitations on the ability to generate original responses in different contexts, but not on the ability to generate relevant responses, which was compromised in most patient groups. The noteworthy findings from this exploratory study of enhanced performance in specific aspects of creative cognition following brain damage are discussed with reference to the generic idea that superior creative ability can result from altered brain function.