Research suggests creative people do not excel in cognitive control

March 6, 2018, University of Arkansas
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A recent study by a University of Arkansas researcher, Darya Zabelina, assistant professor of psychology, takes a new approach to measuring the association between creativity and cognitive control, that is, the mind's ability to override impulses and make decisions based on goals, rather than habits or reactions. Her research shows that people who have creative achievements do not engage in any more or less cognitive control than less creative people.

This contradicts previous research, which relied on laboratory tests, rather than real-life achievements, to measure .

Zabelina and co-author Giorgio Ganis of Plymouth University set out to compare the of people who have achieved creative success in their lives with those of people who scored well on laboratory tests of creativity. They published the results of two studies in the journal Neuropsychologia in February.

In one study, the researchers focused on a laboratory measurement of creativity, which measures "divergent thinking" by asking 15 participants to write a list of problems that might arise from being able to walk on air or fly without being in an airplane.

After taking this test, participants then completed a task designed to measure cognitive control, or the ability to switch the focus of their attention. They were shown small letters arranged to form larger letters, and asked to indicate when a target letter appeared—either as an arrangement of smaller letters, which happened frequently—or as smaller letters arranged to make a different letter, which happened more rarely. Researchers then looked at the of the participants to the frequent targets compared to their response to the rare targets. The researchers also took electroencephalographic, or EEG, readings during this task.

Researchers found that participants who scored higher on the divergent thinking test also exhibited better cognitive control, as measured by their response times and EEG data.

In a second study, the researchers gave 39 participants the divergent thinking test, and they added a test of real-life creativity by asking participants to indicate their real-world achievements in 10 creative domains: visual art, music, dance, architectural design, writing, humor, inventions, scientific discovery, theater and film, and culinary arts.

Then the researchers measured cognitive control in the same manner as in the first experiment.

In the second study, the researchers found that participants who scored well on the divergent thinking once again exhibited greater cognitive control. On the other hand, participants with higher real-world creative achievements did not necessarily score well on the tests, nor did they exhibit greater cognitive control. These findings suggest that of creativity and real-life creative achievement are associated with different cognitive processes.

In her previous work, Zabelina found that real-world have "leaky" attention filters, meaning their brains let in more sensory information than the brains of less creative people. "It's like a double-edged sword," she said. "A lot of information can be overwhelming and distracting. But on the other hand, it helps creative people notice things others don't."

Zabelina made clear that these results shouldn't be used to pathologize creativity. "The creative weren't bad at ," she explains. "Maybe they're just better at it when the task is interesting or they're involved with the task."

Explore further: Research links creativity with inability to filter irrelevant sensory information

More information: Darya L. Zabelina et al. Creativity and cognitive control: Behavioral and ERP evidence that divergent thinking, but not real-life creative achievement, relates to better cognitive control, Neuropsychologia (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2018.02.014

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betterexists
not rated yet Mar 06, 2018
Creativity? Take Physical Abilities. Compare known info between all species. And there is so much unknown too ! Remember that we lag far behind animals in SEVERAL respects. First at least find out the reasons for that, if cannot fix them. Just rejoicing over making a couple of things and feeling proud does not make any sense. Cattle can pull dirty grass out of soil and eat it directly without any issues. Earthworms etc., eat dirty soil itself and survive.
betterexists
not rated yet Mar 06, 2018
Creativity? Take Physical Abilities. Compare known info between all species. And there is so much unknown too ! Remember that we lag far behind animals in SEVERAL respects. First at least find out the reasons for that, if cannot fix them. Just rejoicing over making a couple of things and feeling proud does not make any sense. Cattle can pull dirty grass out of soil and eat it directly without any issues. Earthworms etc., eat dirty soil itself and survive.

Polar Bears can live in North pole; Blinded Bats can fly in total darkness between live electric wires. Fish etc., survive in water forever. Tardigrades can LIVE FOREVER without food and under ALL environmental conditions. Some animals can survive at the bottom of sea where they are subjected to high pressure. Some Birds are Permanently in Air for even 1 year...Surviving surprisingly by Poking other birds to vomit and eating that.
betterexists
not rated yet Mar 06, 2018
Creativity? Even a dust particle or eyelash over our eyeball irritate us, while Rats, Rabbits, Snakes etc., have no problem inside burrows made in the earth. AND Take the Body Sizes of Fossilised Dinosaurs or still extant Elephants and Whales. Take the Dogs with such great olfactory sense and Eagles with Great vision....THE LIST GOES ON !
Inov8
not rated yet Mar 06, 2018
It's important to differentiate between creativity and creative achievement. The second study measures creative achievement, which depends on creativity, sure, but also access to tools, training in the process (music, drafting in the case of inventors, etc,), and access to distribution channels, among others.

Creativity is Edison's famous "2% inspiration." The 98% perspiration is what turns creativity into creative achievement.

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