Incubated cognition and creativity

Journal of Consciousness Studies 14 (3):83-100 (2007)
Many traditional theories of creativity put heavy emphasis on an incubation stage in creative cognitive processes. The basic phenomenon is a familiar one: we are working on a task or problem, we leave it aside for some period of time, and when we return attention to the task we have some new insight that services completion of the task. This feature, combined with other ostensibly mysterious features of creativity, has discouraged naturalists from theorizing creativity. This avoidance is misguided: we can maintain unconscious incubated cognition as (sometimes) part of the creative process and we can explain it in scientifically responsible ways. This paper, focusing on the effects of attention on the functional networking of the brain, attempts just such an explanation. It also serves to assuage the naturalist's scepticism about other features of creative cognition. The broad upshot, one would hope, is that philosophers of mind and cognitive scientists return some attention to the long neglected topic of creativity.
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