Andy’s Quick Hits (204): What do creative brains look like?

Andy Hab
2 min readApr 15, 2022

We’d probably all be happy to be a bit more creative — though research into our own opinions show that many people do actually consider themselves to be above average in creativity. An obvious self-bias.

This is where scientists who study creativity come in and find and research people who are truly creative — though creativity has long been studied there is relatively little research into the brains of creative people (and it is much harder and much more expensive to conduct).

In come UCLA Health scientists who have just published a study into the brain of creative people — known as big C creatives. The brain scanning was done on people who had been nominated by others in the creative industries as being particularly creative. What the researcher found is that:

  • Exceptional creativity is associated with more random connectivity in the brain on the global scale
  • Exceptional creativity therefore seems to use less efficient paths but connects distant brain regions through alternative if less efficient routes
  • Exceptional creativity is however associated with higher efficiency local processing at rest

This suggests that the brains of those who are exceptionally creative as being wired differently or being used differently — of note is that it does not occur to me how this can be changed or learned (some other aspects of creativity can be learned). This suggest that being exceptionally creative is a natural predisposition.

I wonder if my brain is that creative? Probably not. I wouldn’t be writing summaries of scientific articles if it were. Alas!

Ariana Anderson, Kevin Japardi, Kendra S. Knudsen, Susan Y. Bookheimer, Dara G. Ghahremani, Robert M. Bilder.
Big-C creativity in artists and scientists is associated with more random global but less random local fMRI functional connectivity.
Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 2022
DOI: 10.1037/aca0000463

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Andy Hab

Sharing fascinating, fun, and important knowledge on the brain and human behaviour - most days. And masters track athlete - still going strong!