Project

Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) to study and enhance creativity

Goal: Investigating the neural correlates and personality components related to visual creativity in ecological settings to promote and enhance conscious creative experience.

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Project log

Maria Elide Vanutelli
added a research item
In the last 25 years, the field of neuroscience has seen exponential growth due to technological advances, which have not only allowed for collecting more accurate data, but also for addressing a variety of innovative studies for human development understanding. Neurofeedback (NF), and particularly Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI) applications, are among the most promising methods, since they enable individuals to interact with a computer by using their brain activity to learn implicitly and train some specific cognitive and affective functions. These applications proved to be suitable for many different fields, from research to clinical practice. However, NF was used only in individual settings, with participants interacting with a computer, while more ecological and complex phenomena could be better explored in interactive contexts. In the present work, we propose that the future of BCI provided NF may lie in the development of interactive settings where two or more participants can be informed about their inter-brain synchrony to train and reinforce them towards enhanced joint interactions and promote learning and empowerment. We propose that BCI methods should move to brain-X-brain-computer interfaces (B 2 CI). In this new protocol, that we called "hyperfeedback," brain signals coming from two people involved in a joint setting are processed so to provide a compound feedback. The possible applications of such a paradigm are discussed.
Claudio Lucchiari
added a research item
E-learning represents a consolidated practice in education, as a support to traditional classroom-based lessons, in distance, blended and continuous education and, in more recent times, increasing enough as a mean for self-assessment and self-training to maximize learning results. Despite of this overall interest, however, little attention has been devoted to adopting advanced technology-based e-learning approaches in developing specific platforms to support students experiencing Learning Disorders (LDs) difficulties. Among all, cognitive technologies could be integrated in advanced training platforms to empower students' abilities, especially in case of LDs. Indeed, several studies focuses on LDs, especially analyzing: correlations among them, theories about their intern relationships and certain biological models on their basis. Also, computer-aided supports have been studied as a booster in learning process, to compensate individuals' difficulties. Despite of this, few studies focus on the use of cognitive technology to trace a possible integration of these latter with pedagogical approaches to enhance learning processes. The present article focuses on experimenting a prototype of a web-based e-learning environment, preliminarily focused on helping students with dyslexia, considering some results obtained with priming and BCI from our previous researches. The preliminary results are reliable enough to allow future developments, studying deeper the potentiality of learning empowerment through cognitive technologies integrated in e-learning environments.
Raffaella Folgieri
added a research item
The present article presents a high-level study on creativity. From a theoretical point of view, we conceptualized cognitive framework of creativity based on the notion of balance between conscious and unconscious processes. Indeed, creativity may be considered a borderline state of mind, in which the thought seems to fluctuate in a near-consciousness state. When the idea arises to the consciousness, the mind turns back to its previous equilibrium, and divergent thinking is replaced by canonical thinking. Starting with this framework, we designed and developed an entertainment application, in which creativity is enacted by unconscious processes, but in collaboration with conscious motivation. Our aim was then to activate a new, dedicated balance between conscious and unconscious processes, in order to obtain a state of mind similar to the spontaneous creative process, but directly guided by brain activity without the intervention of verbal and semantic modulations. We developed BrainArt, which is essentially a workbench that allows users to create drawing using their own cerebral rhythms, that are then collected by a commercial BCI device. The application gave us the possibility to observe and analyze the spontaneous creative expression of the participants' insight during an experimental session, where users created an artwork using the application. Therefore, this work presents both the BrainArt application possibility for entertainment and freedom to express individual conscious and unconscious creative insight, as well as the preliminary experimental results obtained by a combined approach of statistical, signal and behavioral analysis.
Claudio Lucchiari
added a research item
The presented performance, using an EEG-BCI (Brain Computer Interface), is dedicated to artists, scholars and experts interested in the whole world of creativity and the related psychological and neuro-cognitive mechanisms. The aims of this work are: to identify possible biomarkers (EEG) related to the creative process in specific tasks, exploring it in a real-time ecological setting; to investigate the relation between explicit and implicit mechanisms, between creativity personality trait, and semantic memory; to validate a tool to study creativeness. In a previous pilot study, we revealed the presence of significant relations between personality components, EEG indices and creative processes, suggesting that the use of a self-echo setting may be applied also to boost creativity in people with specific thinking styles and personality traits, and to empower creativity in a tailored fashion. In this paper we extended the experimentation, consolidating the previous obtained results.
Maria Elide Vanutelli
added a research item
Creativity, meant as the ability to produce novel, original and suitable ideas, has received increased attention by research in the last years, especially from neuroaesthetics and social neuroscience. Besides the research conducted on the neural correlates of such capacities, previous work tried to answer the question of whether it is possible to enhance creativity through cognitive and neural stimulation. In particular, transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has been applied to increase neuronal excitability in those areas related to creativity. However, being a complex construct that applies to a huge variety of situations, available results are often confusing and inconsistent. Thus, in the present critical review, after selecting original research articles investigating creativity with tDCS, results will be reviewed and framed according to the different effects of tDCS and its underlying mechanisms, which can be defined as follows: the promotion of self-focused attention; the disruption of inhibiting mechanisms; the enhancement of creative thinking; the promotion of artistic enactment. Finally, a theoretical perspective, the creative on/off model, will be provided to integrate the reported evidence with respect to both anatomical and functional issues and propose a cognitive explanation of the emergence of creative thinking.
Maria Elide Vanutelli
added a research item
The aims of the present work were to identify possible biomarkers (EEG) related to the creative process in specific tasks; to explore the creative process in a real-time ecological setting; to investigate the relation between explicit and implicit mechanisms during creative processes; to explore the relation between creativity and personality trait, semantic memory; to validate a useful tool to study creativeness. The task included 5 conditions to explore different “thematic domains” related to creativity, together with verbal and non-verbal components. Creative and imaginative capabilities were also assessed, together with other personality traits, in a way to explore a possible relation between all these different levels.
Claudio Lucchiari
added a research item
Neurosciences, and particularly Cognitive Sciences, study creativity for the implications in understanding human and machine approach to problem solving. In fact, subjects such as Cognitive Psychology, Brain Neurobiology and Artificial Intelligence, investigate creativity mechanisms related to the human brain and cognition. We can state that creativity is a part of every human daily activity, so that, to understand individuals behaviour and abilities and the mechanisms of mind, we must start from the creative process, as, in general, the search of a different (innovative) solution to a problem. In this paper, we will treat the cognitive aspect of the creative process, particularly starting from cognitive technologies, devices helping researchers to analyse the process by the point of view of the artificial and natural intelligences.
Maria Elide Vanutelli
added a research item
Human creativity is not just the result of a cognitive encapsulated process, but is an online process that link together thoughts, emotions and sensory events in a complex fashion. Thanks to this property, that is to the development of mental reflection, we can always (or almost always) create a context in which to give sense to the world. Art and science are clear examples. Scientific research is clearly interested in mechanisms of translating the imagination, the pure thinking into something useful to a community in a social and economic sense. In particular, the contemporary cognitive science, that is slowly abandoning its traditional stand-alone paradigms, is increasingly taking the shape of an open range where it possible to exercise a fruitful crossfertilization between different disciplines (from computer science to psychology, from art to anthropology and mathematics) that more and more speak a similar language. This new frontier is what we call the paradigm of extended cognition. The performance, presented and discussed in this paper, is aimed at artists, scholars and experts interested in the whole world of creativity and the related psychological and neuro-cognitive mechanisms. In particular, the paper aims at explaining the possible benefits deriving from the contamination of Art and Science in order to understand how the mind and brain shape our experience through the dynamics of conscious and unconscious creativity mechanisms. We aim to contaminate the traditional academic thinking with the suggestions coming from the world of contemporary art and particularly, the installation aims to introduce a discussion on the critical issue of the creativity mediated by technology and, as a counterpart, the creative mood of technology
Maria Elide Vanutelli
added a project goal
Investigating the neural correlates and personality components related to visual creativity in ecological settings to promote and enhance conscious creative experience.