Enhanced dynamic complexity in the human EEG during creative thinking

Matthias Mölle*, Lisa Marshall, Werner Lutzenberger, Reinhard Pietrowsky, Horst L. Fehm, Jan Born

*Corresponding author for this work
86 Citations (Scopus)


This study shows that divergent thinking, considered the general process underlying creative production, can be distinguished from convergent, analytical thought based on the dimensional complexity of ongoing electroencephalographic (EEG) activity. EEG complexity over the central and posterior cortex was higher while subjects solved tasks of divergent than convergent thinking, and also higher than during mental relaxation. Over the frontal cortex, EEG complexity was comparable during divergent thinking and mental relaxation, but reduced during convergent thinking. Results indicate that the basic process underlying the generation of novel ideas expresses itself in a strong increase in the EEG's complexity, reflecting higher degrees of freedom in the competitive interactions among cortical neuron assemblies. Frontocortical EEG complexity being comparable with that during mental relaxation, speaks for a loosened attentional control during creative thinking.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNeuroscience Letters
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)61-64
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 12.04.1996


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