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Neuropsychologia. 2000;38(6):873-85.

On the neurobiology of creativity. Differences in frontal activity between high and low creative subjects.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Lund University, 221 00, Lund, Sweden. ingegerd.carlsson@psychology.lu.se


The aim was to investigate the relationship between creativity and hemispheric asymmetry, as measured by regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF). Two groups, each consisting of 12 healthy male subjects, who got either very high or low scores on a creativity test, were pre-selected for the rCBF investigation. rCBF was measured during rest and three verbal tasks: automatic speech (Auto), word fluency (FAS) and uses of objects (Brick). State and trait anxiety inventories were answered after the rCBF measurements. Intelligence tests were also administered. It was predicted that highly creative subjects would show a bilateral frontal activation on the divergent thinking task (Brick), while low creative subjects were expected to have a unilateral increase. Calculations were made of differences in blood flow levels between the FAS and the Brick measurements in the anterior prefrontal, frontotemporal and superior frontal regions. In accordance with our prediction, repeated measure-ANOVAs showed that the creativity groups differed significantly in all three regions. The highly creative group had increases, or unchanged activity, while the low creative group had mainly decreases. The highly creative group had higher trait anxiety than the low creative group. On the intelligence tests the low creative group was superior both on logical-inductive ability and on perceptual speed, while the groups were equal on verbal and spatial tests. The results are discussed in terms of complementary functions of the hemispheres.

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