Creative brain development

Saggar M, Schreier M .


Here, we aimed at understanding how creative brain develops using functional neuroimaging. Using a cohort-sequential (semi-longitudinal) study of children enrolled in 3rd and 4th grades, we aimed to examine the neural correlates of the widely recognized decline in creative capacity in children as they enter 4th grade (Guignard & Lubart, 2006; Torrance, 1968). It has been argued that the fall in creative capacity can potentially result in mental health issues and underachievement (Axtell, 1966; Kim, 2008; Torrance, 1968). Although several reasons are theorized for this slump, namely, peer-pressure, social norms, conventional training, and/or brain development, the underlying neural causes are still unknown. Using functional neuroimaging, for the first time, we proposed to examine the neural correlates of creative brain development in young children. In the future, the results from this study could allow researchers and educators to develop well-informed interventions and teaching methods for facilitating increased creative capacity in children.


  • Studied neurobehavioral basis of creativity thinking during middle childhood.
  • Using data-driven methods, revealed three trajectories of creativity development.
  • Functional segregation of right frontal regions tracked creativity development.
  • Heightened (normative) externalizing behavior was associated with creativity.


  1. Saggar, M., Xie, H., Beaty, R. E., Stankov, A.D., Schreier, M., Reiss, A.L. (2019) Creativity slumps and bumps: examining neurobehavioral basis of creativity development during middle childhood. NeuroImage



A postdoctoral fellowship from the Stanford Maternal & Child Health Research Institute (MCHRI) to M.S.