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Benedek, Mathias; Bergner, Sabine; Könen, Tanja; Fink, Andreas; Neubauer, Aljoscha C.:

EEG alpha synchronization is related to top-down processing in convergent and divergent thinking

In: Neuropsychologia, 49 (2011) 12 , 3505-3511

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3a. Beiträge in begutachteten Zeitschriften; Aufsatz (keine besondere Kategorie)

Denken, Experimentelle Untersuchung, Gehirn, Kognitive Prozesse, Kreativität, Neuropsychologie, Testaufgabe

Synchronization of EEG alpha activity has been referred to as being indicative of cortical idling, but according to more recent evidence it has also been associated with active internal processing and creative thinking. The main objective of this study was to investigate to what extent EEG alpha synchronization is related to internal processing demands and to specific cognitive process involved in creative thinking. To this end, EEG was measured during a convergent and a divergent thinking task (i.e., creativity-related task) which once were processed involving low and once involving high internal processing demands. High internal processing demands were established by masking the stimulus (after encoding) and thus preventing further bottom-up processing. Frontal alpha synchronization was observed during convergent and divergent thinking only under exclusive top-down control (high internal processing demands), but not when bottom-up processing was allowed (low internal processing demands). We conclude that frontal alpha synchronization is related to top-down control rather than to specific creativity-related cognitive processes. Frontal alpha synchronization, which has been observed in a variety of different creativity tasks, thus may not reflect a brain state that is specific for creative cognition but can probably be attributed to high internal processing demands which are typically involved in creative thinking.

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