The role of (dis)inhibition in creativity: Decreased inhibition improves idea generation


  • Radel Rémi
  • Davranche Karen
  • Fournier Marion
  • Dietrich Arne

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There is now a large body of evidence showing that many different conditions related to impaired fronto-executive functioning are associated with the enhancement of some types of creativity. In this paper, we pursue the possibility that the central mechanism associated with this effect might be a reduced capacity to exert inhibition. We tested this hypothesis by exhausting the inhibition efficiency through prolonged and intensive practice of either the Simon or the Eriksen Flanker task. Performance on another inhibition task indicated that only the cognitive resources for inhibition of participants facing high inhibition demands were impaired. Subsequent creativity tests revealed that exposure to high inhibition demands led to enhanced fluency in a divergent thinking task (Alternate Uses Task), but no such changes occurred in a convergent task (Remote Associate Task; studies la and lb). The same manipulation also led to a hyper-priming effect for weakly related primes in a Lexical Decision Task (Study 2). Together, these findings suggest that inhibition selectively affects some types of creative processes and that, when resources for inhibition are lacking, the frequency and the originality of ideas was facilitated. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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