Prefrontal cortex involvement in creative problem solving in middle adolescence and adulthood
Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience
Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
Creative cognition, defined as the generation of new yet appropriate ideas and solutions, serves important adaptive purposes.
Here, we tested whether and how middle adolescence, characterized by transformations toward life independency and individuality,
is a more profitable phase than adulthood for creative cognition. Behavioral and neural differences for creative problem solving
in adolescents (15-17 years) and adults (25-30 years) were measured while performing a matchstick problem task (MPT) in the
scanner and the creative ability test (CAT), a visuo-spatial divergent thinking task, outside the scanner. Overall performances
were comparable, although MPT performance indicated an advantage for adolescents in creative problem solving. In addition,
adolescents showed more activation in lateral prefrontal cortex (ventral and dorsal) during creative problem solving compared
to adults. These areas correlated with performances on the MPT and the CAT performance. We discuss that extended prefrontal
cortex activation in adolescence is important for exploration and aids in creative cognition.
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