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What role does working memory play in creativity?

Creativity in this context being easily measurable creativity, so performance on things like the uses task etc. Divergent thinking is the ability to consciously generate new ideas that branch out to many possible solutions for a given problem. It can be tested using the S-A creativity test (Society For Creative Minds, 1969).

My assumption is that creativity is a form of divergent thinking and working memory is required for divergent thinking. I was wondering if anyone could expand on or dispel this?

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  • $\begingroup$ Is there a validated operational definition of divergent thinking? $\endgroup$ – Krysta May 6 '15 at 19:09
  • $\begingroup$ Divergent thinking is the ability to consciously generate new ideas that branch out to many possible solutions for a given problem. It can be tested using the S-A creativity test (Society For Creative Minds, 1969). $\endgroup$ – queenslug May 6 '15 at 19:47
  • $\begingroup$ You might look at citations for the test discussed here cogsci.stackexchange.com/questions/9905/… for some more current answers. $\endgroup$ – Krysta May 6 '15 at 20:28
  • $\begingroup$ October 1, 2015 This new article on the unconscious cerebrocerebellar construction of working memory is free on the Internet. The article has a section on how scientific intuition and creativity are produced in working memory. Larry Vandervert, Ph.D. Article is free in the journal Cerebellum and Ataxias at this address: cerebellumandataxias.com/content/2/1/11 $\endgroup$ – user9452 Oct 1 '15 at 23:16
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Takeuchi et al. (2011) had participants in an fMRI perform three tasks in order to measure creativity, working memory and intelligence.

  1. S-A creativity test as a measure of creativity (Society For Creative Minds, 1969).
  2. Verbal n-back as a measure of working memory (Calicott et al., 1999).
  3. Raven's Advanced Progressive Matrix as a measure of intelligence (Raven, 1998).

They reported no association between creativity and WM performance after controlling for IQ.

To our knowledge, this is the first study to investigate the association between individual creativity and functional activity during WM. Creativity and WM performances did not correlate in this study of young healthy and cognitively intact subjects. However, congruent with our hypothesis, our findings showed that reduced TID during the WM task in the precuneus (one of the key nodes of the DMN) is associated with creativity measured by the divergent thinking test.

There was no apparent evidence to suggest that performance on a WM task is associated with performance on a divergent thinking task, but the authors proposed a complex argument for the idea of creativity as "diffuse attention," which they argue may share a neural basis with WM (such that they are opponent processes). The evidence for this is indirect and seems difficult to reconcile with the concretely reported independence of WM and creativity performance, however.

References

  • Callicott, J. H., Mattay, V. S., Bertolino, A., Finn, K., Coppola, R., Frank, J. A., ... & Weinberger, D. R. (1999). Physiological characteristics of capacity constraints in working memory as revealed by functional MRI. Cerebral Cortex, 9(1), 20-26.
  • Raven, J. Court (1998). Manual for Raven’s progressive matrices and vocabulary scales. Oxford: Oxford Psychologists.
  • Society For Creative Minds (1969). Manual of S-A Creativity Test. Tokyo Schinri Corporation. Tokyo.
  • Takeuchi, H., Taki, Y., Hashizume, H., Sassa, Y., Nagase, T., Nouchi, R., & Kawashima, R. (2011). Failing to deactivate: the association between brain activity during a working memory task and creativity. Neuroimage, 55(2), 681-687.
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