Flexible reconfiguration of functional brain networks as a potential neural mechanism of creativity

Brain Imaging Behav. 2020 Sep 29. doi: 10.1007/s11682-020-00388-2. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Creativity relies on the reorganizing of multimodal information and flexible switching between different modes of thinking, suggesting an association between creativity and the reconfiguration of functional brain networks. Here, we investigated global and regional brain dynamics in high-creative (HCG, N = 22) and a low-creative (LCG, N = 20) groups during a divergent creative thinking task. We found that during the creative thinking task, the HCG demonstrated higher global network flexibility, as compared to the LCG. In addition, creative thinking in the HCG was associated with significantly higher regional flexibility in the medial superior temporal gyrus, superior parietal lobule, precuneus, nucleus accumbens, and the ventral inferior frontal gyrus. Interestingly, the LCG demonstrated decreased regional flexibility in the medial superior temporal gyrus, superior parietal lobule, and the ventral inferior frontal gyrus. We also found that the changes in global and regional flexibility in the creative compared with the control tasks were good features allowing for distinguishing between the HCG and the LCG. Taken together, these findings provide evidence that divergent creative thinking is associated with flexible reconfiguration of brain networks involved in verbal, working memory, and reward processing.

Keywords: Alternative uses test; Creativity; Divergent thinking; Dynamic functional connectivity; Flexibility.