Hemispheric connectivity and the visual-spatial divergent-thinking component of creativity

Brain Cogn. 2009 Aug;70(3):267-72. doi: 10.1016/j.bandc.2009.02.011. Epub 2009 Apr 7.


Background/hypothesis: Divergent thinking is an important measurable component of creativity. This study tested the postulate that divergent thinking depends on large distributed inter- and intra-hemispheric networks. Although preliminary evidence supports increased brain connectivity during divergent thinking, the neural correlates of this characteristic have not been entirely specified. It was predicted that visuospatial divergent thinking would correlate with right hemisphere white matter volume (WMV) and with the size of the corpus callosum (CC).

Methods: Volumetric magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) analyses and the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT) were completed among 21 normal right-handed adult males.

Results: TTCT scores correlated negatively with the size of the CC and were not correlated with right or, incidentally, left WMV.

Conclusions: Although these results were not predicted, perhaps, as suggested by Bogen and Bogen (1988), decreased callosal connectivity enhances hemispheric specialization, which benefits the incubation of ideas that are critical for the divergent-thinking component of creativity, and it is the momentary inhibition of this hemispheric independence that accounts for the illumination that is part of the innovative stage of creativity. Alternatively, decreased CC size may reflect more selective developmental pruning, thereby facilitating efficient functional connectivity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Corpus Callosum / anatomy & histology
  • Creativity*
  • Functional Laterality*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Net / anatomy & histology
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Space Perception
  • Thinking*
  • Verbal Learning
  • Visual Perception*