Cooperation Makes a Group be More Creative

Cereb Cortex. 2019 Jul 22;29(8):3457-3470. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhy215.


This study investigated how cooperative and competitive interaction modes affect the group creative performance. The participants were recruited as dyads to solve 2 problems either demanding divergent thinking (alternative uses task, AUT) or not (object characteristic task, OCT). The dyads solved 1 of the 2 problems in the cooperative mode and the other in the competitive mode. Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS)-based hyperscanning was used to record their neural activities in the prefrontal and right temporal-parietal junction (r-TPJ) regions. Results revealed the dyads showed higher AUT fluency, AUT originality, OCT fluency, and cooperation level in the cooperative mode than in the competitive mode. The fNIRS data revealed increased (task-baseline) interpersonal brain synchronization (IBS) in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (r-DLPFC) and r-TPJ, only for dyads in the AUT/cooperation condition. In both r-DLPFC and r-TPJ, the IBS of dyads in the AUT/cooperation condition was stronger than in the AUT/competition and OCT/cooperation. Moreover, a stronger IBS was evoked between the regions in prefrontal and posterior temporal regions in the AUT/cooperation condition, as compared with the competition mode. These findings suggest that enhanced IBS may underlie the positive effects of cooperation as compared with the competition in terms of group creativity.

Keywords: brainstorming; creativity; fNIRS; hyperscanning; interpersonal brain synchronization.

MeSH terms

  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Creativity*
  • Female
  • Functional Neuroimaging
  • Group Processes
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parietal Lobe / diagnostic imaging*
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / diagnostic imaging*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology
  • Problem Solving*
  • Spectroscopy, Near-Infrared
  • Temporal Lobe / diagnostic imaging*
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology
  • Young Adult