Doctor of Philosophy
Dr. Elizabeth Nowicki
Researchers in cognitive neuroscience have used brain-imaging methods (e.g., EEG, fMRI) to investigate the neural correlates of creative cognition and have found increased activity in the alpha frequency band (Fink et al., 2009a, 2009b; Martindale, 1975), however few studies have used neuroscientific measures to investigate artistic creativity. Such studies are valuable because they share a characteristic of ecological validity. In this study I used EEG, the Alternate Uses Test (Guilford, 1967), and the Consensual Assessment Technique (Amabile, 1982) to substantiate a conceptualization of creativity as a mental state characterized by a distinct pattern of neural activity. The participants were musicians with and without previous formal institutional training in improvisation. Amongst those with previous training, frontal upper alpha synchronization in the right hemisphere was greater when musicians improvised than when they played back and listened to melodies. Originality scores correlated with frontal upper alpha synchronization in the right hemisphere during improvisation, and frontal upper alpha synchronization in the right hemisphere correlated with expert ratings of created products. The relationship of frontal upper alpha synchronization in the right hemisphere during improvisation and the quality of created products was mediated by aptitude for originality. This suggests that training acts as a pathway for the development of creative gifts into creative talents observable in the quality of created products.
Lopata, Joel A., "Creativity as a Mental State: An EEG Study of Musical Improvisation" (2014). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 2552.