Poster A111, Saturday, March 24, 1:30–3:30 pm, Exhibit Hall C
Brain processes supporting the generation of new and original ideas
Mathias Benedek1, Emanuel Jauk1, Roger Beaty2; 1University of Graz, 2Harvard University
One particularly remarkable capacity of our brain is the ability to create new mental representations that clearly go beyond what has been previously stored in memory. This imaginative capacity is considered central to creative thinking. A close inspection of creative idea generation performance shows, however, that it typically involves both newly generated ideas as well as original ideas that were actually retrieved from memory. Two fMRI studies capitalized on this observation by contrasting the brain activation between new and old ideas in the alternate uses task. The first study showed that the generation of new ideas is associated with increased activation in the left supramarginal gyrus. A second study extended this design by further distinguishing between the recall of original and common object uses. This study replicated the relevance of the supramarginal gyrus for the generation of new ideas. Moreover, the generation of new uses and the recall of original uses showed a similar activation pattern including activation of bilateral parahippocampal and medial prefrontal cortex regions, suggesting that the construction of new ideas builds on similar processes as the reconstruction of original ideas from episodic memory. Together, these findings shed further light on the crucial role of memory in creative cognition.
Topic Area: LONG-TERM MEMORY: Semantic