I recently returned from the 16th Annual Meeting of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping, held in Barcelona. By far the most relevant presentation I saw at the conference was conducted by researchers from the University of Greifswald in Germany. Led by Katharina Erhard, the researchers examined neural underpinnings of creative writing. While in an MRI scanner, the participants engaged in a number of different tasks, including reading, copying a text, brainstorming, and creative writing (continuing a given portion of text). Verbal creativity was also assessed in all of the participants. Although a number of analyses were reported, perhaps the most interesting was a correlation between brain areas and verbal creativity. The left temporal pole, mentioned in an earlier post in relation to social semantic information, left inferior frontal gyrus, were correlated with verbal creative processes. The real import of this study, however, is that the creative writing process has become a topic of interest for neuroscientists. I anticipate that the coming years are likely to bring a wealth of new information regarding how the brain processes and creates stories. These are indeed exciting times.
I remember that poster from HBM. It'll be interesting to see how researchers tackle this complex problem in future studies.
I am actually engaged in investigating this topic with Allen Braun (NIH). He was responsible for the very interesting study on Jazz improvisation in PLoS ONE not too long ago. We're looking at improv artists to examine spontaneous creativity, but things are still at the early stages.
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