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Unconscious processing modulates creative problem solving: evidence from an electrophysiological study.
Conscious Cogn 2014; 26:64-73CC

Abstract

Previous behavioral studies have identified the significant role of subliminal cues in creative problem solving. However, neural mechanisms of such unconscious processing remain poorly understood. Here we utilized an event-related potential (ERP) approach and sandwich mask technique to investigate cerebral activities underlying the unconscious processing of cues in creative problem solving. College students were instructed to solve divergent problems under three different conditions (conscious cue, unconscious cue and no-cue conditions). Our data showed that creative problem solving can benefit from unconscious cues, although not as much as from conscious cues. More importantly, we found that there are crucial ERP components associated with unconscious processing of cues in solving divergent problems. Similar to the processing of conscious cues, processing unconscious cues in problem solving involves the semantic activation of unconscious cues (N280-340) in the right inferior parietal lobule (BA 40), new association formation (P350-450) in the right parahippocampal gyrus (BA 36), and mental representation transformation (P500-760) in the right superior temporal gyrus (BA 22). The present results suggest that creative problem solving can be modulated by unconscious processing of enlightening information that is weakly diffused in the semantic network beyond our conscious awareness.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Key Laboratory of Cognition and Personality, Ministry of Education, School of Psychology, Southwest University, Chongqing 400715, China.Key Laboratory of Cognition and Personality, Ministry of Education, School of Psychology, Southwest University, Chongqing 400715, China. Electronic address: qrzhang@swu.edu.cn.

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

Language

eng

PubMed ID

24674758

Citation

Gao, Ying, and Hao Zhang. "Unconscious Processing Modulates Creative Problem Solving: Evidence From an Electrophysiological Study." Consciousness and Cognition, vol. 26, 2014, pp. 64-73.
Gao Y, Zhang H. Unconscious processing modulates creative problem solving: evidence from an electrophysiological study. Conscious Cogn. 2014;26:64-73.
Gao, Y., & Zhang, H. (2014). Unconscious processing modulates creative problem solving: evidence from an electrophysiological study. Consciousness and Cognition, 26, pp. 64-73. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2014.03.001.
Gao Y, Zhang H. Unconscious Processing Modulates Creative Problem Solving: Evidence From an Electrophysiological Study. Conscious Cogn. 2014;26:64-73. PubMed PMID: 24674758.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Unconscious processing modulates creative problem solving: evidence from an electrophysiological study. AU - Gao,Ying, AU - Zhang,Hao, Y1 - 2014/03/24/ PY - 2013/07/20/received PY - 2014/01/15/revised PY - 2014/03/02/accepted PY - 2014/3/29/entrez PY - 2014/3/29/pubmed PY - 2015/2/11/medline KW - Creative problem solving KW - Creativity KW - Divergent thinking KW - Event-related potential KW - Unconscious processing SP - 64 EP - 73 JF - Consciousness and cognition JO - Conscious Cogn VL - 26 N2 - Previous behavioral studies have identified the significant role of subliminal cues in creative problem solving. However, neural mechanisms of such unconscious processing remain poorly understood. Here we utilized an event-related potential (ERP) approach and sandwich mask technique to investigate cerebral activities underlying the unconscious processing of cues in creative problem solving. College students were instructed to solve divergent problems under three different conditions (conscious cue, unconscious cue and no-cue conditions). Our data showed that creative problem solving can benefit from unconscious cues, although not as much as from conscious cues. More importantly, we found that there are crucial ERP components associated with unconscious processing of cues in solving divergent problems. Similar to the processing of conscious cues, processing unconscious cues in problem solving involves the semantic activation of unconscious cues (N280-340) in the right inferior parietal lobule (BA 40), new association formation (P350-450) in the right parahippocampal gyrus (BA 36), and mental representation transformation (P500-760) in the right superior temporal gyrus (BA 22). The present results suggest that creative problem solving can be modulated by unconscious processing of enlightening information that is weakly diffused in the semantic network beyond our conscious awareness. SN - 1090-2376 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/24674758/Unconscious_processing_modulates_creative_problem_solving:_evidence_from_an_electrophysiological_study_ L2 - https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S1053-8100(14)00046-4 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -