Intact microstructure of the right corticostriatal pathway predicts creative ability in healthy adults

Brain Behav. 2020 Dec;10(12):e01895. doi: 10.1002/brb3.1895. Epub 2020 Oct 15.


Introduction: Creativity is one of the most complex functions of the human brain. The corticostriatal pathways have been implicated in creative thinking, yet few studies have addressed the microstructural underpinnings of creative ability, especially those related to the corticostriatal dopaminergic circuitry. We hypothesized that performance in creativity tests can be predicted based on diffusion metrics of the corticostriatal pathways and basal ganglia.

Methods: A total of 37 healthy adults were included. Neuropsychological tests of creativity, including the alternative uses task (AUT), test of creative imagery abilities (TCIA), remote associates test (RAT), and creative achievement questionnaire (CAQ), as well as diffusion MRI data were acquired for each participant.

Results: We demonstrated an independent effect of TCIA originality and TCIA transformativeness subscores, and RAT score in predicting the mean diffusivity (MD), mean axial diffusivity (AD), mean fractional anisotropy (FA), and mean generalized FA of the right corticostriatal pathway. We also observed independent effects of AUT elaboration subscore in predicting the AD of the right substantia nigra, and radial diffusivity (RD) of the right globus pallidus.

Conclusion: Our results put a further spin on the "creative right brain" notion and question the presence of high-creative and low-creative networks in the brain.

Keywords: corticostriatal pathway; creativity; diffusion MRI; diffusion-weighted imaging.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anisotropy
  • Brain*
  • Creativity*
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Humans
  • Substantia Nigra