The Relationship between Creative Inspiration, Self-Evaluated Satisfaction, and Brain Activity During Simplified Music Composition
The human prefrontal cortex (PFC) is an important target for research that attempts to elucidate and influence higher brain function using non-invasive neuroimaging techniques. In particular, creativity is a specific higher human brain function and is integral for the evolution of human society. Creative inspirations generated during creative activity often provide solutions to hard problems that lead to a progressive society. The present study examined PFC activity when creative inspiration occurred and evaluated the influence of brain activity on the quality of creation using the simplified music composition task and near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS). Deeply understanding these brain functions possibly builds a foundation for the development of methods to stimulate brain activation for the simulation of creativity. The PFC activity measurements were achieved by measuring oxygen metabolism in cerebral blood flow (CBF) using wearable ten-channel optical topography. We invented a new, simplified method of music composition to analyze brain activity of a person without musical instrument experience. A report of creative inspirations was conducted by asking the subject to raise their hand to self-report instances of inspiration during the music composition task that were then compared against statistically analyzed brain activity before and after self-reported inspirations. A correlation coefficient between brain activity and self-evaluation measured by the visual analog scale (VAS) was investigated. The present research found that the right ventrolateral PFC is activated by creative inspiration. Significant brain activation of four out of five participating subjects was observed (p < 0.05). CBF increases delayed from inspirations, and mean delay time was approximately 12 s. We observed weak positive correlation between brain activity and self-evaluation in a wide range. However, the correlation coefficient was not statistically significant (p > 0.05). The simplicity of the music composition task possibly masks clear correlation. In conclusion, the main finding is that right PFC activation via self-reported inspiration indicates an important mechanism of creativity.
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