The Tennenbaum Center for the Biology of Creativity at UCLA enables an interdisciplinary team of leading scientists to advance knowledge about the biological bases of creativity.  Starting with a pilot project program, a series of investigations was launched, spanning disciplines from basic molecular biology to cognitive neuroscience.  Because the concept of creativity is multifaceted, initial efforts targeted refinement of the component processes necessary to generate novel, useful cognitive products.  We identified core cognitive processes:

  1. Novelty Generation – the ability to flexibly and adaptively generate products that are unique;
  2. Working Memory and Declarative Memory – the ability to maintain, and then use relevant information to guide goal-directed performance, along with the capacity to store and retrieve this information; and
  3. Response Inhibition – the ability to suppress habitual plans and substitute alternate actions in line with changing problem-solving demands.

To study the basic mechanisms underlying these complex brain functions we use translational strategies.  Starting from foundational studies in basic neuroscience, we forged an interdisciplinary strategy that permits the most advanced techniques for genetic manipulation and basic neurobiological research to be applied in close collaboration with human studies that converge on the same core cognitive processes.  Our integrated research program aims to reveal the genetic architecture and fundamental brain mechanisms underlying creative cognition. The work holds enormous promise for both enhancing healthy cognitive performance and designing new treatments for diverse cognitive disorders.