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Mark R. Samco, Gideon P. Caplovitz, Po-Jang Hsieh, Peter U. Tse; Neural correlates of human creativity revealed using diffusion tensor imaging. Journal of Vision 2005;5(8):906. doi: 10.1167/5.8.906.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Creating art is among the most complex expressions of visual and other brain function. What is the neural basis of creativity? Here we show that specific white matter organization is correlated with an individual's degree of creativity. Thirty-six healthy volunteers were tested for creativity using the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT), tests which ask participants to produce novel visual and lexical solutions to semantically challenging problems. Combined scores from the TTCT provided a creativity index (CI). CI was then correlated with each participant's fractional anisotropy (FA) values obtained via diffusion tensor imaging (DTI; GE 1.5T, 6 directions). Our whole-brain voxel-wise correlational analysis revealed that more creative participants exhibited more highly organized (i.e. anisotropic) white matter, primarily in right hemispheric brain areas, including right frontal areas, the right corona radiata and the right angular gyrus. For example, we found a strong positive correlation (max. r-value = 0.6523) between CI and FA in white matter near the right medial frontal gyrus (Talairach coordinates = TC: 11, 46, −15). Fiber tractography (DTIstudio, H. Jiang and S. Mori, Johns Hopkins U.) revealed that fibers from this ROI innervate much of the frontal lobe, including the right inferior and superior frontal gyri. These results suggest that highly creative individuals engage a network of right frontal areas when solving semantically rich problems. In addition, our finding of positively correlated clusters in the right angular gyrus and the right corona radiata indicate that creative individuals use an extended network of right hemisphere functional areas to produce novel solutions to complex problems. Fiber tractography strikingly demonstrates the difference in connectivity between creative and non-creative brains.
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