Neural Underpinnings of Creative Thinking and Tool Use: A Meta-Analysis of Neuroimaging Data

  • Naoki MiuraEmail author
  • Yukako Sasaki
  • Kunihiro Hasegawa
  • Hiroki C. Tanabe
Part of the Replacement of Neanderthals by Modern Humans Series book series (RNMH)


The aim of our research project was to investigate whether the replacement of Neanderthals by modern humans can be explained by differences in anatomical and functional differences of the brain. In the present study, we created functional maps of creative thinking and understanding of tool use action.

Research articles on neuroimaging studies of creative thinking and observation or imitation of tool use action were collected, and then meta-analysis using activation likelihood estimation for neuroimaging articles was performed to evaluate the regions associated with specific cognitive functions.

The results demonstrated that the lateral fronto-parieto-temporal network of the left hemisphere was mainly contributed to the cognitive processing of both creative thinking and tool use. The right cerebellum also participated in those cognitive processings. Our reconstruction of the virtual Neanderthal brain using computational neuroanatomy indicates morphological differences in parietal cortex and cerebellum between Neanderthals and modern humans. Integrating with those results, the difference in cognitive ability of learning behavior could be discussed from the standpoint of neuroscience.


Creativity Tool use Meta-analysis Functional brain map Cognitive neuroscience 



This study was supported by Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Innovative Areas (Grant No. 22101007), MEXT, Japan.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Naoki Miura
    • 1
    Email author
  • Yukako Sasaki
    • 2
  • Kunihiro Hasegawa
    • 3
  • Hiroki C. Tanabe
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Information and Communication Engineering, Faculty of EngineeringTohoku Institute of TechnologySendaiJapan
  2. 2.Advanced Brain Science, Institute of Development, Aging and CancerTohoku UniversitySendaiJapan
  3. 3.Automotive Human Factors Research CenterNational Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and TechnologyTsukubaJapan
  4. 4.Division of Psychology, Department of Cognitive and Psychological Sciences, Graduate School of InformaticsNagoya UniversityNagoyaJapan

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