Emotional Intent Modulates the Neural Substrates of Creativity: An fMRI Study of Emotionally Targeted Improvisation in Jazz Musicians

Malinda J. Mcpherson, Frederick S. Barrett, Monica Lopez-Gonzalez, Patpong Jiradejvong, Charles J. Limb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Emotion is a primary motivator for creative behaviors, yet the interaction between the neural systems involved in creativity and those involved in emotion has not been studied. In the current study, we addressed this gap by using fMRI to examine piano improvisation in response to emotional cues. We showed twelve professional jazz pianists photographs of an actress representing a positive, negative or ambiguous emotion. Using a non-ferromagnetic thirty-five key keyboard, the pianists improvised music that they felt represented the emotion expressed in the photographs. Here we show that activity in prefrontal and other brain networks involved in creativity is highly modulated by emotional context. Furthermore, emotional intent directly modulated functional connectivity of limbic and paralimbic areas such as the amygdala and insula. These findings suggest that emotion and creativity are tightly linked, and that the neural mechanisms underlying creativity may depend on emotional state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number18460
JournalScientific reports
Volume6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 4 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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