Creative connections: Computational semantic distance captures individual creativity and resting-state functional connectivity

William Orwig, Ibai Diez, Patrizia Vannini, Roger Beaty, Jorge Sepulcre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Recent studies of creative cognition have revealed interactions between functional brain networks involved in the generation of novel ideas; however, the neural basis of creativity is highly complex and presents a great challenge in the field of cognitive neuroscience, partly because of ambiguity around how to assess creativity. We applied a novel computational method of verbal creativity assessment—semantic distance— and performed weighted degree functional connectivity analyses to explore how individual differences in assembly of resting-state networks are associated with this objective creativity assessment. To measure creative performance, a sample of healthy adults (n = 175) completed a battery of divergent thinking (DT) tasks, in which they were asked to think of unusual uses for everyday objects. Computational semantic models were applied to calculate the semantic distance between objects and responses to obtain an objective measure of DT performance. All participants underwent resting-state imaging, from which we computed voxel-wise connectivity matrices between all gray matter voxels. A linear regression analysis was applied between DT and weighted degree of the connectivity matrices. Our analysis revealed a significant connectivity decrease in the visual-temporal and parietal regions, in relation to increased levels of DT. Link-level analyses showed higher local connectivity within visual regions was associated with lower DT, whereas projections from the precuneus to the right inferior occipital and temporal cortex were positively associated with DT. Our results demonstrate differential patterns of resting-state connectivity associated with individual creative thinking ability, extending past work using a new application to automatically assess creativity via semantic distance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)499-509
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of cognitive neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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