The effect of semantic memory degeneration on creative thinking

a voxel-based morphometry analysis

Tamara Paulin, Daniel Roquet, Yoed N. Kenett, Greg Savage, Muireann Irish*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    10 Downloads (Pure)

    Abstract

    Increasing attention is being directed towards explicating the neurocognitive mechanisms of divergent thinking. While neuroimaging studies have tended to dominate the contemporary creativity literature, lesion studies provide important converging evidence by revealing the regions that are not only implicated in, but essential for, task performance. Here we explored the capacity for divergent thinking in semantic dementia (SD), a neurodegenerative disorder characterised by the progressive degeneration of the conceptual knowledge base. The performance of 10 SD patients on a divergent thinking task was contrasted with that of 15 patients with the behavioural variant of frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) and 20 healthy control participants. In addition, all participants underwent neuropsychological testing and structural MRI. Relative to controls, both patient groups generated significantly fewer responses on the divergent thinking task, with disproportionate impairment in the SD group. Further, the responses generated by patient groups were less original and reflected less flexible thinking when compared with controls. For SD patients, fluency of responses correlated with performance on a measure of semantic association, and originality of responses correlated with semantic naming and comprehension ability. In bvFTD, originality of ideas correlated with letter fluency and response inhibition. Voxel-based morphometry analyses revealed two grey matter clusters consistently associated with diminished Fluency of ideas, namely a left medial temporal lobe cluster centred on the left anterior hippocampus, and a left middle frontal gyrus cluster. Our study highlights the importance of distinct temporal and prefrontal contributions to divergent thinking via a lesion approach, and underscores the pivotal role of semantic processes in creative cognition.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number117073
    Pages (from-to)1-9
    Number of pages9
    JournalNeuroImage
    Volume220
    Early online date20 Jun 2020
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2020

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

    Keywords

    • creativity
    • semantic dementia
    • episodic memory
    • anterior temporal lobe
    • hippocampus
    • cognitive flexibility

    Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'The effect of semantic memory degeneration on creative thinking: a voxel-based morphometry analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this