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Unformatted text preview: REM, not incubation, improves creativity by priming associative networks Denise J. Cai a , Sarnoff A. Mednick b , Elizabeth M. Harrison a , Jennifer C. Kanady c , and Sara C. Mednick c,1 Department of a Psychology, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92037; b Department of Psychology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90033; and c Department of Psychiatry, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093 Edited by Thomas D. Albright, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, CA, and approved May 4, 2009 (received for review January 13, 2009) The hypothesized role of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is rich in dreams, in the formation of new associations, has remained anecdotal. We examined the role of REM on creative problem solving, with the Remote Associates Test (RAT). Using a nap paradigm, we manipulated various conditions of prior expo- sure to elements of a creative problem. Compared with quiet rest and non-REM sleep, REM enhanced the formation of associative networks and the integration of unassociated information. Fur- thermore, these REM sleep benefits were not the result of an improved memory for the primed items. This study shows that compared with quiet rest and non-REM sleep, REM enhances the integration of unassociated information for creative problem solv- ing, a process, we hypothesize, that is facilitated by cholinergic and noradrenergic neuromodulation during REM sleep. human u implicit u memory u remote-associates u sleep The night before Easter Sunday of that year I awoke, turned on the light, and jotted down a few notes on a tiny slip of paper. Then I fell asleep again. It occurred to me at 6 oclock in the morning that during the night I had written down something most important, but I was unable to decipher the scrawl. The next night, at 3 oclock, the idea returned. It was the design of an experiment to determine whether or not the hypothesis of chemical transmission that I had uttered 17 years ago was correct. I got up immediately, went to the labora- tory, and performed a single experiment on a frogs heart according to the nocturnal design. Otto Loewi, 1938 German, Nobel laureate for his work on the chemical transmission of nerve impulses. C reativity has been defined as the forming of associative elements into new combinations which either meet specified requirements or are in some way useful (1). It has been further proposed that creative problem solving is reached in four successive phases: first, intense but unsuccessful confrontations with the elements of the problem; second, a decision to put the problem aside; third, a dormant period with no further conscious work on the problem, e.g., incubation; and finally, a flash of insight in which the solution suddenly enters consciousness while the individual is dreaming or engaged in idle thought (24). Evidence for the role of these phases in creative problem solving (e.g., a dormant period or incubation), however, issolving (e....
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