Creativity was predicted by the structure of functional connections in the brain

(ORDO NEWS) — For the first time, researchers have established a link between real-life creativity, semantic memory structure, and functional connectivity between different regions of the brain. They were able to predict the level of creativity measured with tests based on functional magnetic resonance imaging of the brain.

Creativity is the ability to create something new and appropriate for a particular context, and then implement these innovations to solve everyday problems. To a greater extent, it manifests itself in creative activities – music, fine arts, science.

Scientists have not yet fully figured out which cognitive mechanisms determine creativity, however, a number of theories and studies point to the important role of the structure of semantic memory.

In other words, it is assumed that creativity is influenced by how the elements of our knowledge about the world around us are interconnected.

In a new study, scientists at the Brain Institute of Paris, along with colleagues from Israel and Austria, combined three levels of brain research to evaluate the impact of semantic memory structure on creativity.

One hundred subjects were asked to take a test to assess creativity in everyday life, which took into account the interest in eight types of creative activities – such as literature, cooking, theater arts – and achievements in them.

To build an individual semantic network, participants had to rate on a scale from zero to 100 the degree of connection of 35 different concepts, each with each, that is, 595 pairs. While the volunteers were giving assessments, their brain activity was recorded using functional magnetic resonance imaging.

So the researchers obtained three types of characteristics for each subject: estimates of the level of creativity in everyday life, an individual structure of the semantic network for 35 concepts, and the degree of functional connectivity of different brain regions, which reflects the similarity in their activation profile.

First of all, the scientists found out how the structure of the semantic network is related to creativity: it turned out that people with more compact and less segregated semantic networks that do not fall into semantic modules are more creative.

The authors of the article suggest that such a structure allows people to more easily extract distant associations and, accordingly, find non-standard solutions faster.

The scientists then determined which regions’ functional connectivity determines these structural characteristics of semantic networks and, accordingly, influences creativity.

Finally, closing the loop, the researchers explored how the characteristics of the semantic web mediated the relationship between functional connectivity and real-life creativity.

This is the first work that links three levels of research—real life behavior, cognitive processes, and brain function—and provides new insights into the neurocognitive mechanisms that underlie creativity in real life.

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