Developing Novel Neuroimaging Paradigm to Assess Neural Correlates of Improvisation and Creative Thinking Using fMRI

  • Manish SaggarEmail author
  • Lindsay C. Chromik
  • Adam Royalty
  • Grace Hawthorne
  • Allan L. Reiss
Part of the Understanding Innovation book series (UNDINNO)


The ability to produce novel yet appropriate (or useful) outcomes is broadly defined as creativity. Given the cultural significance of creativity, researchers have been attempting to uncover brain mechanisms underlying creative thinking since the early 1960s. However, several methodological issues have restricted researchers in uncovering the brain basis for creativity and previous neuroimaging studies have largely produced varied findings, with little overlap. Some of the methodological issues that could account for the large variance in results include treating creativity as a unitary construct, assessing creativity in a test-like environment, as well as explicitly prompting participants to “switch-on” creativity during certain parts of the experiment. To partly mitigate some of these issues, we recently developed a novel game-like and creativity-conducive neuroimaging paradigm that was employed to assess neural correlates of spontaneous improvisation and figural creativity in healthy adults (Saggar Sci Rep 5:10894, 2015). In this chapter, we provide a brief overview of the current state of neuroscience research focused on creativity. We also provide insights regarding our experimental design, challenges faced during prototyping as well as a summary of our results. Lastly, building upon our novel paradigm, we provide pointers to future work for assessing neural correlates of creative capacity enhancement and team creativity.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Manish Saggar
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lindsay C. Chromik
    • 1
  • Adam Royalty
    • 2
  • Grace Hawthorne
    • 2
  • Allan L. Reiss
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences ResearchStanford University School of MedicineStanfordUSA
  2. 2.Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (

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