Reflection enhances creativity: Beneficial effects of idea evaluation on idea generation

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Abstract

The present study aimed to explore the neural correlates underlying the effects of idea evaluation on idea generation in creative thinking. Participants were required to generate original uses of conventional objects (alternative uses task) during EEG recording. A reflection task (mentally evaluating the generated ideas) or a distraction task (object characteristics task) was inserted into the course of idea generation. Behavioral results revealed that participants generated ideas with higher originality after evaluating the generated ideas than after performing the distraction task. The EEG results revealed that idea evaluation was accompanied with upper alpha (10–13 Hz) synchronization, most prominent at frontal cortical sites. Moreover, upper alpha activity in frontal cortices during idea generation was enhanced after idea evaluation. These findings indicate that idea evaluation may elicit a state of heightened internal attention or top-down activity that facilitates efficient retrieval and integration of internal memory representations.

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