What it means
But what does this tell us about creativity more broadly? The findings align nicely with a dominant theory of creativity called “cognitive disinhibition,” which posits that creativity is the product of reduced control over what is happening inside of your mind, leading you to entertain new ideas and think more fluidly. Since the cortex plays a role in memory and structuring thought, it makes sense that reduced thickness would be associated with openness.
“It’s almost like a reduced filter mechanism that, in some cases, can be beneficial,” said Vatanian.
Neuroimaging studies like this one could be the future of creativity research, as scientists seek to fully understand which neurons are firing in our brains when the creative spark ignites. But as Vartanian will quickly tell you, even the most advanced technology cannot unearth the biological root of all creativity. After all, what even constitutes creativity is determined by the society a person lives in as much as their individual brain structure. “We know there are all kinds of social and cultural aspects that affect creative thinking,” said Vartanian, “but we’re hoping to find a neural representation of those social and cultural effects.”
When it comes to understanding creativity, he adds, brain structure is just “one aspect of a multifaceted problem.”