Common and distinct brain networks underlying verbal and visual creativity

Hum Brain Mapp. 2017 Apr;38(4):2094-2111. doi: 10.1002/hbm.23507. Epub 2017 Jan 13.


Creativity is imperative to the progression of human civilization, prosperity, and well-being. Past creative researches tends to emphasize the default mode network (DMN) or the frontoparietal network (FPN) somewhat exclusively. However, little is known about how these networks interact to contribute to creativity and whether common or distinct brain networks are responsible for visual and verbal creativity. Here, we use functional connectivity analysis of resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging data to investigate visual and verbal creativity-related regions and networks in 282 healthy subjects. We found that functional connectivity within the bilateral superior parietal cortex of the FPN was negatively associated with visual and verbal creativity. The strength of connectivity between the DMN and FPN was positively related to both creative domains. Visual creativity was negatively correlated with functional connectivity within the precuneus of the pDMN and right middle frontal gyrus of the FPN, and verbal creativity was negatively correlated with functional connectivity within the medial prefrontal cortex of the aDMN. Critically, the FPN mediated the relationship between the aDMN and verbal creativity, and it also mediated the relationship between the pDMN and visual creativity. Taken together, decreased within-network connectivity of the FPN and DMN may allow for flexible between-network coupling in the highly creative brain. These findings provide indirect evidence for the cooperative role of the default and executive control networks in creativity, extending past research by revealing common and distinct brain systems underlying verbal and visual creative cognition. Hum Brain Mapp 38:2094-2111, 2017. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Keywords: default mode network; frontoparietal network; functional connectivity; verbal creativity; visual creativity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Creativity*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Intelligence
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neural Pathways / diagnostic imaging
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Regression Analysis
  • Rest
  • Verbal Behavior / physiology*
  • Young Adult