Educational diversity and group creativity: Evidence from fNIRS hyperscanning

Neuroimage. 2021 Nov:243:118564. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2021.118564. Epub 2021 Sep 7.


Educational diversity is defined as the diversity of educational backgrounds measured by multiple subjects. This study aimed to unveil the interpersonal neural correlates that underlie the effect of group educational diversity on group creativity. One hundred and sixteen college students were assigned to high educational diversity (HD; the members respectively majored in science or social science) or low educational diversity (LD; the members both majored in either science or social science) groups based on their academic majors. They were required to solve two problems that either demanded creativity (alternative uses task, AUT) or not (object characteristics task). We used functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS)-based hyperscanning to simultaneously record the neural responses of pairs of interacting participants in each group. The LD group showed more AUT fluency and perspective-taking behaviours than the HD group, whereas no group difference was observed for AUT uniqueness. Additionally, collective flexibility was higher in the HD group than in the LD group. The fNIRS results showed that the interpersonal brain synchronisation (IBS) increments at the right angular gyrus and right primary somatosensory cortex were greater in the LD group than in the HD group. These findings indicate that although high educational diversity benefits cognitive flexibility, it does not necessarily lead to a better idea quality or greater idea quantity. The greater IBS increments and perspective-taking behaviours that we observed in the LD group may account for this.

Keywords: Educational diversity; Group creativity; Hyperscanning; Interpersonal brain synchronisation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / physiology
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Creativity*
  • Educational Status*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Group Processes*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology
  • Problem Solving / physiology
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology
  • Spectroscopy, Near-Infrared
  • Young Adult