Creative thinking and brain network development in schoolchildren

Philippe Eon Duval, Eleonora Fornari, Marion Décaillet, Jean Baptiste Ledoux, Roger E. Beaty, Solange Denervaud

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2 Scopus citations


Fostering creative minds has always been a premise to ensure adaptation to new challenges of human civilization. While some alternative educational settings (i.e., Montessori) were shown to nurture creative skills, it is unknown how they impact underlying brain mechanisms across the school years. This study assessed creative thinking and resting-state functional connectivity via fMRI in 75 children (4–18 y.o.) enrolled either in Montessori or traditional schools. We found that pedagogy significantly influenced creative performance and underlying brain networks. Replicating past work, Montessori-schooled children showed higher scores on creative thinking tests. Using static functional connectivity analysis, we found that Montessori-schooled children showed decreased within-network functional connectivity of the salience network. Moreover, using dynamic functional connectivity, we found that traditionally-schooled children spent more time in a brain state characterized by high intra-default mode network connectivity. These findings suggest that pedagogy may influence brain networks relevant to creative thinking—particularly the default and salience networks. Further research is needed, like a longitudinal study, to verify these results given the implications for educational practitioners. A video abstract of this article can be viewed at Research Highlights: Most executive jobs are prospected to be obsolete within several decades, so creative skills are seen as essential for the near future. School experience has been shown to play a role in creativity development, however, the underlying brain mechanisms remained under-investigated yet. Seventy-five 4–18 years-old children, from Montessori or traditional schools, performed a creativity task at the behavioral level, and a 6-min resting-state MR scan. We uniquely report preliminary evidence for the impact of pedagogy on functional brain networks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere13389
JournalDevelopmental Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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