Modulation of creativity by transcranial direct current stimulation.Brain Stimul 2019 Sep - Oct; 12(5):1213-1221BS
Creativity is the use of original ideas to accomplish something innovative. Previous research supports the notion that creativity is facilitated by an activation of the right and/or a deactivation of the left prefrontal cortex. In contrast, recent brain imaging studies suggest that creativity improves with left frontal activation.
The present study was designed to further elucidate the neural basis of and ways to modulate creativity, based on the modulation of prefrontal cortical activity through the non-invasive brain stimulation technique transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS).
Ninety healthy University students performed three tasks on major aspects of creativity: conceptual expansion (Alternate Uses Task, AUT), associative thinking (Compound Remote Associate Task, CRA), and set shifting ability (Wisconsin Card Sorting Task, WCST). Simultaneously, they received cathodal stimulation of the left and anodal stimulation of the right inferior frontal gyrus (IFG), the reverse protocol, or sham stimulation.
The main pattern of results was a superior performance with bilateral left cathodal/right anodal stimulation, and an inferior performance in the reversed protocol compared to sham stimulation. As a potential underlying physiological mechanism, resting state EEG beta power, indicative of enhanced cortical activity, in the right frontal area increased with anodal stimulation and was associated with better performance.
The findings provide new insights into ways of modulating creativity, whereby a deactivation of the left and an activation of the right prefrontal cortex with tDCS is associated with increased creativity. Potential future applications might include tDCS for patients with mental disorders and for healthy individuals in creative professions.