Cooperation makes two less-creative individuals turn into a highly-creative pair

Neuroimage. 2018 May 15:172:527-537. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.02.007. Epub 2018 Feb 8.


This study aimed to investigate which type of group (e.g., consisting of less-creative or highly-creative individuals) would perform better in solving creativity problems, and explore the underlying inter-brain neural correlates between team members. A preliminary test (an alternative-uses task) was performed to rank individuals' level of creativity, and divide participants into three types of dyads: high-high (two highly-creative individuals), low-low (two less-creative individuals), and high-low (one highly-creative and one less-creative individual). Dyads were then asked to solve a realistic presented problem (RPP; a typical creativity problem) during which a functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS)-based hyperscanning device was used to record the variation of interpersonal brain synchronization (IBS). Results revealed that less-creative individuals, while working together, would perform as well as highly-creative individuals. The low-low dyads showed higher levels of cooperation behaviour than the other two types of dyads. The fNIRS results revealed increased IBS only for low-low dyads at PFC (prefrontal cortex) and rTPJ (right temporal-parietal junction) brain regions during RPP task performance. In the rDLPFC (right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex), the IBS in the low-low dyads was stronger than that of high-high and high-low dyads. In the rTPJ, the IBS in the low-low dyads was only stronger than that of the high-low dyads. Besides, the IBS at rDLPFC and rTPJ regions in the low-low dyads was positively correlated with their cooperation behaviour and group creative performance. These findings indicated when two less-creative individuals worked on a creativity problem together, they tended to cooperate with each other (indicated by both behaviour index and increased IBS at rDLPFC and rTPJ), which benefited their creative performance.

Keywords: Brainstorming; Creativity; Hyperscanning; Interpersonal brain synchronization; fNIRS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Creativity*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Problem Solving / physiology*
  • Spectroscopy, Near-Infrared
  • Young Adult