Creativity assessment in neuroscience research

Mathias Benedek, Alexander P. Christensen, Andreas Fink, Roger E. Beaty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (SciVal)


The investigation of the neural correlates of creative cognition requires researchers to adapt creativity tasks to meet the constraints imposed by cognitive neuroscience research-assessing well-defined cognitive processes, repeated over many tasks. We present a brief review of essential study design parameters in neuroscience research on creativity, including number of task repetitions (i.e., trials), time on task, what kind of responses are collected (e.g., whether participants speak, write, draw, press buttons), and when these responses are collected (e.g., after or during task). We further examine how design parameters depend on neuroscience methods (e.g., fMRI, EEG) and task type (e.g., divergent thinking, creative problem solving). The review discloses a substantial heterogeneity of methodological approaches across studies but also identifies some established common practices. Typical adaptations include the employment of shortened tasks, which allows the realization of more tasks per session, and a more focused investigation of time-critical cognitive processes. Study designs also commonly separate periods of creative thought from response production to restrict the effect of response-related motor artifacts and to assess brain activity unique to the generation of creative ideas or solutions. We discuss the pros and cons of the various approaches with respect to the goal to increase reliability of neurophysiological measurements while maintaining valid assessments, and derive some recommendations for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)218-226
Number of pages9
JournalPsychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Applied Psychology


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