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Keywords:

  • fMRI;
  • structural equation modeling (SEM);
  • creativity;
  • hemispheric laterality

Abstract

Creativity has been proposed to be either the result of solely right hemisphere processes or of interhemispheric interactions. Little information is available, however, concerning the neuronal foundations of creativity. In this study, we introduced a new artistic task, designing a new tool (a pen), which let us quantitatively evaluate creativity by three indices of originality. These scores were analyzed in combination with brain activities measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The results were compared between subjects who had been formally trained in design (experts) and novice subjects. In the experts, creativity was quantitatively correlated with the degree of dominance of the right prefrontal cortex over that of the left, but not with that of the right or left prefrontal cortex alone. In contrast, in novice subjects, only a negative correlation with creativity was observed in the bilateral inferior parietal cortex. We introduced structure equation modeling to analyze the interactions among these four brain areas and originality indices. The results predicted that training exerts a direct effect on the left parietal cortex. Additionally, as a result of the indirect effects, the activity of the right prefrontal cortex was facilitated, and the left prefrontal and right parietal cortices were suppressed. Our results supported the hypothesis that training increases creativity via reorganized intercortical interactions. Human Brain Mapp 2009. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.