How semantic memory structure and intelligence contribute to creative thought: a network science approach

Thinking and Reasoning 23 (2):158-183 (2017)
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Abstract

The associative theory of creativity states that creativity is associated with differences in the structure of semantic memory, whereas the executive theory of creativity emphasises the role of top-down control for creative thought. For a powerful test of these accounts, individual semantic memory structure was modelled with a novel method based on semantic relatedness judgements and different criteria for network filtering were compared. The executive account was supported by a correlation between creative ability and broad retrieval ability. The associative account was independently supported, when network filtering was based on a relatedness threshold, but not when it was based on a fixed edge number or on the analysis of weighted networks. In the former case, creative ability was associated with shorter average path lengths and higher clustering of the network, suggesting that the semantic networks of creative people show higher small-worldness.

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