The creative brain: Corepresenting schema violations enhances TPJ activity and boosts cognitive flexibility
until further notice
Number of pages
SourceCreativity Research Journal, 26, 2, (2014), pp. 144-150
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI SCP
Creativity Research Journal
SubjectBehaviour Change and Well-being
Cognitive flexibility is one of the essential mental abilities underlying creative thinking. Previous findings have shown that cognitive flexibility can be enhanced by schema violations, and it has been suggested that active involvement is needed for schema violations to facilitate cognitive flexibility. The possibility that identification with an actor performing a schema violation (i.e., corepresenting an active schema violation) can enhance cognitive flexibility was investigated in 2 studies. In the first study, under conditions of high or low identification, participants watched an actor preparing a sandwich. The way the actor made the sandwich followed either a schema violation or contained the normal schema of preparing a sandwich. When identification was high, watching a schema-violation-enhanced cognitive flexibility as compared to watching the corresponding normal event. No effect of schema violation occurred under conditions of low identification. As little is known about the neural correlates of schema violations, in the second study the brain activity during schema violations was explored by means of functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). Participants were instructed to identify with an actor and brain activity was measured while participants watched the actor performing a schema violation or the corresponding normal schema. Activity in the temporal parietal junction (TPJ), a brain region that is associated with violation of expectations, was higher in the schema-violation condition than in the normal schema condition. These findings enhance the theoretical understanding of the effects of schema violations and may provide important practical implications in various settings where creative thinking is needed.
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