Cognitive and neuroimaging evidence suggests that episodic and semantic memory—memory for autobiographical events and conceptual knowledge, respectively—support different aspects of creative thinking, with a growing number of studies reporting activation of brain regions within the default network during performance on creative thinking tasks. The present research sought to dissociate neural contributions of these memory processes by inducing episodic or semantic retrieval orientations prior to performance on a divergent thinking task during fMRI. We conducted a representational similarity analysis (RSA) to identify multivoxel patterns of neural activity that were similar across induction (episodic and semantic) and idea generation. At the behavioral level, we found that semantic induction was associated with increased idea originality, assessed via computational estimates of semantic distance between concepts. RSA revealed that multivoxel patterns during semantic induction and subsequent idea generation were more similar (compared to episodic induction) within the left angular gyrus (AG), posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), and left anterior inferior parietal lobe (IPL). Conversely, activity patterns during episodic induction and subsequent generation were more similar within left parahippocampal gyrus and right anterior IPL. Together, the findings point to dissociable contributions of episodic and semantic memory processes to creative cognition and suggest that distinct regions within the default network support specific memory-related processes during divergent thinking.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cognitive Neuroscience