Scott Barry Kaufman (Scientific American) | The real neuroscience of creativity

According to Kaufman, creativity involves three major neural networks in the brain: Executive Attention, Default [Imagination], and Salience. In his argument against an oversimplified right brain versus left brain perspective, he also speaks to the role of imaginative activity in the creative process.

The latest findings from the real neuroscience of creativity suggest that the right brain/left brain distinction does not offer us the full picture of how creativity is implemented in the brain… Three large-scale brain networks are critical to understanding the neuroscience of creativity.

  • The Executive Attention Network is recruited when a task requires that the spotlight of attention is focused like a laser beam.
  • [T]he Default [Imagination] Network…is involved in “constructing dynamic mental simulations based on personal past experiences such as used during remembering, thinking about the future, and generally when imagining alternative perspectives and scenarios to the present.”
  • The Salience Network constantly monitors both external events and the internal stream of consciousness and flexibly passes the baton to whatever information is most salient to solving the task at hand.


Scott Barry Kaufman (Scientific American) | The real neuroscience of creativity