Poster A29, Saturday, March 24, 1:30–3:30 pm, Exhibit Hall C
Increasing cognitive control abilities inhibits creative responses, but only if they are not too “far” away: A tDCS study
Yoed N. Kenett1, David S. Rosen2, Emilio R. Tamez1, Sharon L. Thompson-Schill1; 1University of Pennsylvania, 2Drexel University
How does cognitive control impact creative cognition? Some have hypothesized that increased cognitive control has a negative effect on creative idea generation but a positive effect on creative idea evaluation. Prior brain stimulation research directly examined the effects of decreased frontally-mediated control on a visual alternative-uses task: Decreased cognitive control facilitated creative idea generation, suggesting that lower inhibition may allow access to more distant associative ideas, thereby increasing novelty. In the current study, we show how increased cognitive control decreases creative idea generation in a novel, verbal variant of the alternative-uses task: Participants completed an uncommon sentence completion task after undergoing either anodal (facilitative), cathodal (inhibitive), or sham (control) transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) over left prefrontal cortex. Their responses were rated for their novelty and appropriateness by an independent sample of raters. We found that anodal stimulation increased the appropriateness and decreased the novelty of participants responses. Furthermore, we found that this effect interacted with a computational measure of the semantic distance of these responses: such an increase in appropriateness and decrease in novelty of responses is limited to responses that are not too semantically distant or “far away”. Thus, we show for the first time how enhanced cognitive control can inhibit novel idea generation and shed new light on the capacity of cognitive control mechanisms to mediate access to distant, weakly-related associative ideas.
Topic Area: EXECUTIVE PROCESSES: Monitoring & inhibitory control