Creativity is universally recognized as central to both scientific and cultural progress. A Strategic Opportunity exists, however, as the neuronal underpinning(s) of this construct have been vastly understudied. We shall study students (N = 175; aged 16 - 20) with high creative potential in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) compared with either highly creative (N = 35) or less creative STEM adults (N = 35). We aim to predict creative achievement, in both cohorts, with an optimal combination of behavioral characteristics (i.e., High Math, visuo-spatial, divergent thinking, implicit learning, Openness) as well as structural brain variables (e.g., MRS, DTI, sMRI). Our study will be the first of its kind to rationally deconvolve critical cognitive, non-cognitive, and personality variables that serve to underpin scientific creativity as manifested in the brain. This reductionist approach is a major step towards making 'creativity' a more tractable neuroscientific question to undertake. Based on our prior performance, we can predict Concrete Outputs including: 15 publications (5 high impact), 20 conference presentations, 8 invited talks, and 5 media events. If we are successful, the Enduring Impacts would be several. First, we would have identified specific behavioral and brain precursors that predict creative achievement in a large cohort of young subjects just entering the field. Second, we will have identified a discrete network of brain regions associated with high creativity in STEM both in young and older cohorts. Third, the parsing of 'creativity' both in terms of cognitive components and scientific innovation (as opposed to artistic creativity) allows for the deliberate, stepwise, approach to understanding creative cognition that has been severely lacking heretofore. Creativity will be a tractable problem amenable to scientific inquiry as opposed to a 'mysterious' quality of the brain inaccessible to the specificity of our measures.
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