Mind the gap: an attempt to bridge computational and neuroscientific approaches to study creativity

Geraint A.Wiggins, Joydeep Bhattacharya


Creativity is the hallmark of human cognition and is behind every innovation, scientific discovery, piece of music, artwork, and idea that have shaped our lives, from ancient times till today. Yet scientific understanding of creative processes is quite limited, mostly due to the traditional belief that considers creativity as a mysterious puzzle, a paradox, defying empirical enquiry. Recently, there has been an increasing interest in revealing the neural correlates of human creativity. Though many of these studies, pioneering in nature, help demystification of creativity, but the field is still dominated by popular beliefs in associating creativity with “right brain thinking”, “divergent thinking”, “altered states” and so on (Dietrich and Kanso, 2010). In this article, we discuss a computational framework for creativity based on Baars’ Global Workspace Theory (GWT; Baars, 1988) enhanced with mechanisms based on information theory. Next we propose a neurocognitive architecture of creativity with a strong focus on various facets (i.e., unconscious thought theory, mind wandering, spontaneous brain states) of un/pre-conscious brain responses. Our principal argument is that pre-conscious creativity happens prior to conscious creativity and the proposed computational model may provide a mechanism by which this transition is managed. This integrative approach, albeit unconventional, will hopefully stimulate future neuroscientific studies of the inscrutable phenomenon of creativity.

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