By Roger E. Beaty, Mathias Benedek, Paul J. Silvia, and Daniel L. Schacter | Trends in Cognitive Science | November 6, 2015
Creative thinking is central to the arts, sciences, and everyday life. How does the brain produce creative thought? A series of recently published papers has begun to provide insight into this question, reporting a strikingly similar pattern of brain activity and connectivity across a range of creative tasks and domains, from divergent thinking to poetry composition to musical improvisation. This research suggests that creative thought involves dynamic interactions of large-scale brain systems, with the most compelling finding being that the default and executive control networks, which can show an antagonistic relation, tend to cooperate during creative cognition and artistic performance. These findings have implications for understanding how brain networks interact to support complex cognitive processes, particularly those involving goal-directed, self-generated thought.