The AHA! Experience: Creativity Through Emergent Binding in Neural Networks


should be sent to Paul Thagard, Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1 Canada. E-mail:


Many kinds of creativity result from combination of mental representations. This paper provides a computational account of how creative thinking can arise from combining neural patterns into ones that are potentially novel and useful. We defend the hypothesis that such combinations arise from mechanisms that bind together neural activity by a process of convolution, a mathematical operation that interweaves structures. We describe computer simulations that show the feasibility of using convolution to produce emergent patterns of neural activity that can support cognitive and emotional processes underlying human creativity.