Quantity yields quality when it comes to creativity: a brain and behavioral test of the equal-odds rule

Front Psychol. 2015 Jun 25;6:864. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00864. eCollection 2015.


The creativity research community is in search of a viable cognitive measure providing support for behavioral observations that higher ideational output is often associated with higher creativity (known as the equal-odds rule). One such measure has included divergent thinking: the production of many examples or uses for a common or single object or image. We sought to test the equal-odds rule using a measure of divergent thinking, and applied the consensual assessment technique to determine creative responses as opposed to merely original responses. We also sought to determine structural brain correlates of both ideational fluency and ideational creativity. Two-hundred forty-six subjects were subjected to a broad battery of behavioral measures, including a core measure of divergent thinking (Foresight), and measures of intelligence, creative achievement, and personality (i.e., Openness to Experience). Cortical thickness and subcortical volumes (e.g., thalamus) were measured using automated techniques (FreeSurfer). We found that higher number of responses on the divergent thinking task was significantly associated with higher creativity (r = 0.73) as independently assessed by three judges. Moreover, we found that creativity was predicted by cortical thickness in regions including the left frontal pole and left parahippocampal gyrus. These results support the equal-odds rule, and provide neuronal evidence implicating brain regions involved with "thinking about the future" and "extracting future prospects."

Keywords: cortical volume; creative cognition; creativity; divergent thinking; imagination; magnetic resonance imaging; neuroimaging (anatomic and functional).