Project Title: 

Neural Substrates of Improvisation Across Different Artistic Domains

Funding detail: 
NEA Research Lab
University of California, San Francisco
Principal Investigator: 
Charles Limb, MD, Karen Barrett, PhD
Project summary: 

The Sound and Music Perception Lab at the University of California, San Francisco will conduct studies to identify neural substrates for creativity across a range of art forms. This lab's principal activity will involve collecting and analyzing data from "genius improvisers" in music, the visual arts, and comedy. Participants in these three art forms will perform an improvisational task, compared with an appropriate control task, while their brains are scanned with a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) device. In addition, participants will complete a battery of assessments, including personality measures, tests of creativity, and tests of cognitive abilities. Researchers will work with SF Jazz, The San Francisco Art Institute, Second City Improvisation Troupe, and Speechless to design experimental tasks suitable for each artistic domain and will help recruit participants. The studies will serve as proof-of-concept for studying improvisation across artistic domains.

The research agenda aims to address the following research questions:

  • What is the relationship between one or more forms of arts participation and other forms of creativity?; and
  • What are the cognitive and/or social processes of arts-based creativity, and how do they affect learning-related outcomes?

For more information on this Lab, see their Research Lab webpage.

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