A study published in Neuroscience found that different areas of the brain are activated depending on the type of creativity. The study also found that dopamine modulates and optimizes creative neural pathways. Improvising, abstraction ideas, and divergent thinking all involve different, interconnected, brain areas that include the cerebellum, hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, and basal ganglia. The researchers developed a neurobiological model to describe similarities and differences between various types of creativity and their neuronal circuits based on algorithms. This neural network model provides the first unified framework for analyzing different forms of creativity.
Lead author Dr. Radwa Khalil describes the neurocomputational model as a starting point for working towards a better understanding of the underlying neuronal mechanisms. She stated, "The more we know about these mechanisms, the more specifically we can promote creativity and possibly contribute as promising interventions for people with relevant disturbed brain areas." Knowledge of the creative neuronal mechanisms may have implications for developing potentially effective treatments for those neurocognitive disorders. Prior research has only provided theoretical and conceptual models of creativity, but this model is the first brain-inspired neural network model of creative cognition.
Examining the complex neural circuitry involved in the creative process helps scientists understand how random thoughts become ideas. The human brain has roughly 86 billion neurons that are organized into a group of neurons that sense the environment and another group of neurons that react to the environment. Creativity requires cooperation of two competing brain networks: the default mode network that generates spontaneous thoughts and the executive control that regulates all other functions. The default network produces new free flowing ideas that are processed and approved by the executive control network. Processes that involve improvisation and abstraction provide useful models for studying the neural connections of creativity.