Peter Tse, Ph.D.
Psychological & Brain Sciences
“The neural bases of human imagination and creativity”
The artifact record suggests that the minds of earlier species in our genus were singularly unimaginative. For example, the Acheulian handaxes of Homo Erectus hardly changed over more than a million years. Even the more sophisticated Mousterian technology of the Neanderthals was stable over many tens of thousands of years. With the advent of our species, however, innovation in art and technology became explosive. What changed in our brains to permit our species to become so innovative and creative? I will begin with some ideas in this regard, before getting into the details of fMRI data from three experiments on mental operations over imagined objects. In particular, I will argue that changes in the circuitry commonly thought to underlie volitional manipulation of operands in working memory was central to the development of our species’ creativity.