Martijn Wokke, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Amsterdam, has been named winner of the 2014 Creative Mind Prize for his research proposal ‘Unleashing creativity by decreasing prefrontal control’. Wokke, who was presented with the prize by Freek de Jonge on Thursday, 19 June, will use it to conduct research at the UvA’s Amsterdam Brain & Cognition (ABC) research centre.
Creativity is often identified as the driving force behind human progress, enabling us to develop in new directions. With his project, Wokke wants to determine how creative processes can develop in the brain without being forestalled by rational thought control in the brain’s prefrontal cortex.
To discover how the prefrontal cortex regulates creative thinking, Wokke will let human subjects learn new material in two different ways: by ‘errorless’ and ‘errorfull’ learning. The human subjects will then have to perform a task in which they apply their newly acquired knowledge either in an unusual and creative way, or in a more usual, rational manner. Wokke expects that the material learnt in an errorless way will unleash a flash of creativity in the brain, while the subjects who acquired new knowledge through errorfull learning will be more sensitive to prefrontal control and will continue to think ‘inside' the box.
The Creative Mind Prize is an initiative of the Freek and Hella de Jonge Foundation (Freek en Hella de Jonge Stichting), and is awarded to a young researcher with an original and brilliant idea for research centered on creativity and the workings of the brain. The winner is given the chance to conduct his or her research at the UvA’s Amsterdam Brain & Cognition (ABC) research centre.