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Stimulating creativity via the exposure to other people's ideas



As it is the case in brainstorming, each single idea a person generates to a specific problem may stimulate new ideas or solutions in others. In this fMRI study, we investigate the effects of cognitive stimulation via the exposure to other people's ideas on the originality of generated ideas. Participants are requested to generate alternative uses of conventional everyday objects subsequent to a short cognitive stimulation intervention in which they are exposed to other ideas, which were either common or highly original. In a control condition, meaningless pseudowords are shown. Results suggest that cognitive stimulation via common or moderately creative ideas was effective in improving creativity. At the neurophysiological level, temporo-parietal brain regions (primarily right-hemispheric) turned out to be particularly sensitive to cognitive stimulation, possibly indicating that cognitive stimulation via relevant memory cues results in a state of heightened focused attention to memory that facilitates efficient retrieval and recombination of existing knowledge. Hum Brain Mapp, 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.