Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Colin Martindale

Second Committee Member

Jonathan Borkum

Third Committee Member

Michele Alexander


Theories dating back to the 1800's have suggested neurophysiological specialization as a key factor in creative production. A common theme in these theories is that greater flexibility in neurophysiological response to stimuli allows more creative individuals to customize their response to the task at hand (Martindale, 1999). In particular, more creative individuals are able to enter a more relaxed, free associative cognitive state when it is necessary for them to produce a creative solution (e.g., Kris, 1952; Mednick, 1962; Mendelsohn, 1976). There is empirical support for individual differences in neurophysiological state between more and less creative participants performing creative tasks (e.g., Martindale, 1999). This research showed that more creative participants had more variable patterns of activation in response to creative tasks, as well as greater activation in the right hemisphere during creative tasks. This previous research was used as a model for this investigation, as well as a guide in finding new methods to investigate neurophysiological differences between more and less creative individuals. Three experiments were conducted: (a) an investigation of differences in spectral density and cross-spectral density for six frequency bands (delta, theta, low alpha, high alpha, low beta, and high beta) during the imagination and writing of a creative story; (b) an investigation of NlOO and P300 responses to stimuli presented using the classic oddball paradigm; (c) an investigation of NLFOO responses to congruous and incongruous sentence endings. The first experiment expanded upon previous work by increasing the number of recording sites and by investigating a wider range of frequency bands than previous research. The second and third experiment introduced new methods to creativity research, with a focus on the initial response to novel or unexpected stimuli. Results across all three experiments were that more creative participants showed greater variability in recorded response, and that more creative participants showed generally greater activation in the right hemisphere. This is consistent with many theories of creativity, as well as the hypotheses of this investigation.

Included in

Psychology Commons