Brain Imaging and Behavior

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 258–273 | Cite as

Relation of visual creative imagery manipulation to resting-state brain oscillations

  • Yuxuan Cai
  • Delong Zhang
  • Bishan Liang
  • Zengjian Wang
  • Junchao Li
  • Zhenni Gao
  • Mengxia Gao
  • Song Chang
  • Bingqing Jiao
  • Ruiwang Huang
  • Ming Liu
Original Research


Visual creative imagery (VCI) manipulation is the key component of visual creativity; however, it remains largely unclear how it occurs in the brain. The present study investigated the brain neural response to VCI manipulation and its relation to intrinsic brain activity. We collected functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) datasets related to a VCI task and a control task as well as pre- and post-task resting states in sequential sessions. A general linear model (GLM) was subsequently used to assess the specific activation of the VCI task compared with the control task. The changes in brain oscillation amplitudes across the pre-, on-, and post-task states were measured to investigate the modulation of the VCI task. Furthermore, we applied a Granger causal analysis (GCA) to demonstrate the dynamic neural interactions that underlie the modulation effect. We determined that the VCI task specifically activated the left inferior frontal gyrus pars triangularis (IFGtriang) and the right superior frontal gyrus (SFG), as well as the temporoparietal areas, including the left inferior temporal gyrus, right precuneus, and bilateral superior parietal gyrus. Furthermore, the VCI task modulated the intrinsic brain activity of the right IFGtriang (0.01–0.08 Hz) and the left caudate nucleus (0.2–0.25 Hz). Importantly, an inhibitory effect (negative) may exist from the left SFG to the right IFGtriang in the on-VCI task state, in the frequency of 0.01–0.08 Hz, whereas this effect shifted to an excitatory effect (positive) in the subsequent post-task resting state. Taken together, the present findings provide experimental evidence for the existence of a common mechanism that governs the brain activity of many regions at resting state and whose neural activity may engage during the VCI manipulation task, which may facilitate an understanding of the neural substrate of visual creativity.


Visual creative imagery (VCI) Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) General linear model (GLM) Brain intrinsic activity Left-over-right inhibition 


Compliance with ethical standards


This work was supported by the Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 31371049 and No. 31600907) and the Guangdong Provincial Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 2014A030310487).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing financial interests.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yuxuan Cai
    • 1
  • Delong Zhang
    • 1
  • Bishan Liang
    • 2
  • Zengjian Wang
    • 1
  • Junchao Li
    • 1
  • Zhenni Gao
    • 1
  • Mengxia Gao
    • 1
  • Song Chang
    • 1
  • Bingqing Jiao
    • 1
  • Ruiwang Huang
    • 1
  • Ming Liu
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for the Study of Applied Psychology, Key Laboratory of Mental Health and Cognitive Science of Guangdong Province, School of PsychologySouth China Normal UniversityGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.College of EducationGuangdong Polytechnic Normal UniversityGuangdong ShengChina

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