Poster D63, Monday, March 26, 8:00-10:00 am, Exhibit Hall C
Neural mechanisms of episodic retrieval support divergent creative thinking
Kevin P. Madore1, Preston P. Thakral2, Roger E. Beaty2, Donna Rose Addis3, Daniel L. Schacter2; 1Stanford University, 2Harvard University, 3University of Auckland
Prior research has indicated that brain regions and networks that support semantic memory, attention, and cognitive control are all involved in divergent creative thinking. Kernels of evidence suggest that neural processes supporting episodic memory – the retrieval of particular elements of prior experiences – may also be involved in divergent thinking but such processes have typically been characterized as not very relevant for, or even a hindrance to, creative output. In the present study, we combine functional magnetic resonance imaging with an experimental manipulation to test formally, for the first time, episodic memory’s involvement in divergent thinking. Thirty-two young adults completed a within-subjects design, and task analyses focused on whole-brain univariate regression models and multivariate independent component analyses. Following a manipulation that facilitates detailed episodic retrieval, greater neural activity in the hippocampus and stronger connectivity between a core brain network linked to episodic processing and a frontoparietal brain network linked to cognitive control were observed during divergent thinking relative to an object association control task that requires little divergent thinking. Stronger coupling following the retrieval manipulation extended to a subsequent resting-state scan with univariate seed-to-voxel connectivity. Neural effects of the episodic manipulation were consistent with behavioral effects of enhanced idea production on divergent thinking. The results indicate that conceptual frameworks should accommodate the idea that episodic retrieval can function as a component process of creative idea generation, and highlight how the brain flexibly utilizes the retrieval of episodic details for tasks beyond simple remembering.
Topic Area: LONG-TERM MEMORY: Episodic