The Four-Factor Imagination Theory (4FIT): Strategy, Methodology, and Anticipated Results

    Project: Research project

    Project Details


    Neuroimaging – Neural Basis of Attention in High and Low Imaginative People
    During Year 2 of the research program we will use neuroimaging techniques (rest and task fMRI) to examine the neural basis of attention in high and low imaginative people. Little is known about neural mechanisms of highly imaginative people. Creative cognition, however, arguably involves the ability to imagine. Our previous work investigated the association between creativity and attention. We find that real-world creative achievement is associated with the reduced ability to filter our “irrelevant” information, or with what we call “leaky” (rather than selective) attention (Zabelina, et al., 2016), as well as with leaky (rather than selective) sensory gating, as assessed by the P50 ERP (Zabelina, et al., 2015). Performance on a timed laboratory measure of divergent thinking, however, is associated with flexible attention, which is potentially driven by selective focus and rapid inhibition, and therefore rapid switching of attention (Zabelina, et al., 2016), as well as with selective (rather than leaky) sensory gating (Zabelina, et al., 2015).
    What form of attention is linked with imagination? Extending on our previous work, the proposed study will investigate neural correlates of attentional flexibility and attentional selectivity in imagination. To this end, participants will be pre-selected based on their imagination scores on the Imagination Quotient (ImQ) scale. We will collect resting state data, which will allow for evaluation of regional interactions that occur when participants are not performing an explicit task. Participants will then complete an attention task (see Methods) examining their attentional flexibility and attentional selectivity in an MRI setting. Finally, we will examine whether neural regions associated with attentional flexibility and attentional selectivity are affected by mood as a function of imagination.
    Imagination, like creative achievement, may benefit from the propensity for a bottom-up leaky, rather than selective, attention. Leaky attention may help people be more sensitive to the information that is outside their focus of attention, and integrate this information into their current information processing, leading to increased capacity for imagination. In the study similar to our attention task, right IFG was preferentially more activated on trials requiring leaky attention (incongruent trials) compared to trials requiring selective attention (congruent trials; Hedden & Gabrieli, 2010). Given that right IFG is implicated in top-down cognitive inhibition (Bunge et al., 2007), this may provide evidence that top-down inhibition mechanism is generally needed on incongruent trials on this attention task. If highly imaginative people indeed have leaky attention, we should see a decreased activation of IFG on incongruent (compared to congruent) trials in high, compared to low, imaginative people (Prediction 1).
    Functional connectivity analysis shows greater functional coupling of left IFG and the Default Mode Network (DMN) in high compared to low divergent thinkers (assessed with a laboratory measure of divergent thinking; Beaty et al., 2014), suggesting that cooperation between brain regions associated with cognitive control and low-level spontaneous processes contributes to divergent thinking. DMN regions include the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), and the adjacent precuneus, and bilateral inferior parietal lobule (IPL; Gusnard & Raichle, 2001). Interestingly, congruent (compared to ne
    Effective start/end date7/1/166/30/17


    • University of Colorado (1554377//RFP-15-04)
    • Imagination Institute (1554377//RFP-15-04)


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