Verbal Creativity and Ambiguity Resolution in the Cerebral Hemispheres
Gibson, Linzi Marie
University of Kansas
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This study examined hemispheric differences in ambiguity resolution in subjects who vary on measures of creativity. Subjects were classified as either low, moderate, or high creative based on the results of convergent and divergent thinking tests as well as a personality inventory. Two experiments utilized a divided visual field (DVF) paradigm to study hemispheric processing of sentences containing an ambiguous word followed by a lateralized target word. In Experiment 1 the subjects were presented with sentences that bias the reader to either the dominant or subordinate meaning of the ambiguous word. In Experiment 2 the initial context of the sentence provided a bias towards either the subordinate or dominant meaning of the word. After the ambiguous word occurred, the end of the sentence switched the context to the alternative. The sentences were then be followed by a lateralized target word that was either related to the dominant meaning, subordinate meaning, or there was no relation to the target word. Participants performed a relatedness judgment to the sentence and the target word. A Stroop task was also utilized as a measure of cognitive control. The low creative participants performed worse on the DVF priming study as well as the Stroop task. These individuals seemed to rely on more automatic/bottom-up activation in both the Stroop and DVF priming tasks. Both the low and moderate creative participants had a preference for dominance in the DVF sentence priming tasks. The low creative group also had more difficulty resolving ambiguity than the high and moderate creative participants. When a biased sentence was presented, the high creative individuals activated the alternative meaning of the ambiguous word. This seems to be evidence of a broad pattern of activation and may be a reflection of the role of the left hemisphere (LH) in the high creative group. The LH seems to be maintaining both representations of the ambiguous word. It may be that the high creative subjects do in fact show greater salience for both dominant and subordinate meanings in the LH.
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