A fundamental unanswered question about creativity is whether Big-C (exceptional) creativity shows extensive overlap with little-c (everyday) creativity, or if Big-C individuals are "outliers"; marked by unique features of brain and behavior that are rare within the little-c population. The Big-C project will examine this question empirically, and determine if exceptionally creative individuals are truly outliers on multiple objective measurements of brain and behavior. We will examine brain structure, function, and connectivity using methods from graph theory, cognitive function, and personality measures linked to creativity. We are poised to accomplish these goals because we recently completed a normative study of creative achievement, cognition and personality traits in 300 healthy people, and have comparison data on more than 1,500 people with measures of brain structure, function, and cognition, so we can now recruit and examine Big-C creatives to determine empirically how they overlap and how they differ from the little-c groups. We propose studying new groups of Big-C visual artists (n = 30), Big-C scientists (n = 30), and healthy little-c volunteers (n = 30) matched to the Big-C groups on demographic and fluid intelligence measures. Recruitment of Big-C individuals leverages our engagement of advisors from UCLA and the extensive creative community in Los Angeles, along with innovative methods to map associations among creative people and products using Internet search-result graphing algorithms, and bibliometric methods to quantify scientific productivity and influence. Our analyses focus on determining if, and how many of the Big-C individuals are multivariate outliers, and explores these differences using innovative classification algorithms. The results will have profound implications for advancing the neuroscience of creativity and for developing novel educational practices to enhance creativity and exceptional achievement in diverse disciplines.
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