The Cognitive Neuroscience of Design Creativity

Design cognition is a human cognitive ability that is characterized by multi-faceted skills and competencies. This skill requires finding solutions for a vague problem, where the end point is not specified and the transformations from the problem state to the solution state are also flexible. Designers solve such tasks regularly, but the mental processes involved in such a skill are not known completely. Design research has involved empirical studies and theoretical modeling to understand the cognitive processes underlying this skill. In lab-based studies, a sub-class of problem-solving tasks called “ill-structured” tasks has been used to study the design process. However, the use of a cognitive neuroscience perspective has only been nascent. In this review, some defining features of design creativity will be elucidated and a few cognitive neuroscience studies of design creativity that shows the underlying brain networks will be highlighted. Results from these experiments using ill-structured tasks along with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) show that the brain networks underlying design creativity only partially overlap with brain networks underlying other kinds of creativity. This argues for studying design creativity as a unique subset of creativity using experiments that mimic the real-world design creative processes.

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About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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