Participation of the left inferior frontal gyrus in human originality

Oded M. Kleinmintz, Donna Abecasis, Amitay Tauber, Amit Geva, Andrei V. Chistyakov, Isabella Kreinin, Ehud Klein, Simone G. Shamay-Tsoory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Human creative cognition is commonly described as a twofold cyclic process that involves an idea generation phase and an idea evaluation phase. Although the evaluation phase makes a crucial contribution to originality, its underlying mechanisms have not received sufficient research attention. Here, we suggest that the left inferior frontal gyrus (lIFG) plays a major role in the interplay between the evaluation and generation networks and that inhibiting this region’s activity may have an effect on “releasing” the generation neural network, resulting in greater originality. To examine the neural networks that mediate the generation and evaluation of ideas, we conducted an fMRI experiment on a group of healthy human participants (Study 1), in which we compared an idea generation task to an idea evaluation task. We found that evaluating the originality of ideas is indeed associated with a relative increase in lIFG activation, as opposed to generating original ideas. We further showed that temporarily inhibiting the lIFG using continuous theta-burst stimulation (Study 2) results in less strict evaluation on the one hand and increased originality scores on the other. Our findings provide converging evidence from multiple methods to show that the lIFG participates in evaluating the originality of ideas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329-341
Number of pages13
JournalBrain Structure and Function
Volume223
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Creativity
  • Divergent thinking
  • Evaluation
  • FMRI
  • TMS neuronavigation

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