Examining the neural correlates of creative capacity enhancement using targetted training.

Saggar M, Hawthorne G, Reiss A .


Creativity is widely recognized as an essential skill for entrepreneurial success and adaptation to daily-life demands. However, we know little about the neural changes associated with creative capacity. We are actively involved in doing a series of studies to better understand:

  • how creativity is manifested in the brain

  • can we enhance creativity using design-thinking based training

  • how the neural activity changes with creative capacity enhancement


  • We found that creativity can be enhanced using targetted d.school based training (2 hrs/wk for 5 wks)
  • We developed a novel game-like fMRI paradigm to study creative capacity using the social-game of Pictionary
  • Longitudinal analysis revealed reduced prefrontal engagement was associated with enhanced improvisational creativity
  • Heightened creative capacity was also associated with increased functional connectivity between cerebral-cerebellar regions (esp. prefrontal-cerebellum)


  1. Bott, N., Quintin, E.-M., Saggar, M., Kienitz, E., Royalty, A., Hong, D. W.C., Liu, N., Chien, Y.H., Hawthorne, G., Reiss, A.L. (2014) Creativity training enhances goal-directed attention and information processing . Thinking Skills and Creativity , 13, 120–128
  2. Kienitz, E., Quintin, E.-M., Saggar, M., Bott, N. T., Royalty, A., Hong, D. W.-C., Liu, N., Chien, Y.H., Hawthorne, G., Reiss, A.L. (2014) Targeted intervention to increase creative capacity and performance: A randomized controlled pilot study . Thinking Skills and Creativity , 13(0), 57–66
  3. Saggar, M., Quintin, E.-M., Kienitz, E., Bott, N. T., Sun, Z., Hong, D.W.C., Chien, Y.H., Liu, N., Dougherty, R.F., Royalty, A., Hawthorne, G., Reiss, A.L. (2015) Pictionary-based fMRI paradigm to study the neural correlates of spontaneous improvisation and figural creativity. Scientific Reports , 5, 10894
  4. Saggar, M., Quintin, E.-M., Bott, N. T., Kienitz, E., Chien, Y.H., Hong, D.W.C., Lui, N., Royalty, A., Hawthrone, G., Reiss, A.L. (2017) Changes in brain activation associated with spontaneous improvisation and figural creativity after design thinking based training: a longitudinal fMRI study . Cerebral Cortex .



Hasso-Plattner Design Thinking Research Program (HPDTRP) Grant to Dr. Allan Reiss .