Creativity is a complex process that requires the activation of several brain areas. So far it is not entirely clear whether creativity requires a specific neural architecture or not. The research team of cognitive neuroscientist Roger Beaty at Harvard University seems to have found differences in the brains of highly creative people.

His research revealed three neural networks with strong connections involved in the process of creativity in the parietal and prefrontal cortexes. This study has begun to identify the processes of controlled thinking and spontaneous ideas. Everything seems to indicate that creativity in a person could be predictable from the strength of his or her neuronal connections in these three networks.

Mapping the Creative Brain

According to this study, creativity or creative thinking would involve three different neural networks working at the same time. They are as follows.

The default or predetermined neural network

It is the one involved in the processes of imagination , in daydreaming or when our mind wanders without an object of attention. It is distributed in the medial area of the temporal, parietal and prefrontal lobes. It seems that it could play a fundamental role in the generation of ideas and in possible solutions for their execution.

The Executive Control Network

It is linked to the evaluation of ideas in order to determine whether they fit the creative objective. It is a set of regions that are activated when we need to control thought processes or focus our attention . It includes the previous cingulate twist. It seems to provide important connections between the components of the attentional process.

The Neural Network of Relevance

This network acts as a switching mechanism between the default and executive control networks .

Keys to Understanding Creativity

It is possible that creative people are able to activate these brain systems that do not normally work together at the same time. Although the keys to understanding the process of creativity don’t seem to lie solely in large-scale neural networks.

Our brain orders the stimuli we receive through our senses into what we could call “information blocks”. Every time we receive new information, new neural networks are created that immediately relate to the existing information. We thus create mental models from which we can easily extract the necessary information to solve questions that may arise later.

The problem is that, although they are very useful for solving tasks without much prior analysis, some of these blocks become so rigid that they are very difficult to modify. What creativity basically does is challenge those rigid neural networks and give rise to creative and imaginative thinking.

The Creative Personality

Researchers like Mayers or Taylor proposed certain creative personality traits. The most creative individuals use divergent thinking , that is, several solutions to the same problem. They have an intrinsic motivation and better tolerate ambiguity and risk, instead of functioning in a more automatic way.

On the other hand, creative subjects are less interested in the practical aspects of life , tend to enjoy a good sense of humour and respond better in general to disorder. Besides seeing things from the same point of view as other people, they also see things differently. They can work on several things at once and are very curious.

Are you born with it or can you train with it?

The latest research is yielding fascinating results in terms of the creative process. However, even today this question remains unanswered. We are beginning to get an idea of the neurological basis of this process, and it seems that the creative brain is wired differently , but we still don’t know why.

More research is needed in the future to determine whether these neural networks are fixed or whether the mind can be trained to become creative. It has been suggested from various quarters that creative writing, art training or music training could change the neural connections. However, for the moment, the question remains open.

Author: Sonia Budner.