Divergent Task Performance in Older Adults: Declarative Memory or Creative Potential?

Academic Article


  • Divergent thinking is a process or method used to generate creative ideas by exploring many possible solutions or responses, and is a critical element of creativity. Lesion and imaging studies have shown that the frontal lobes are important in mediating divergent thinking, and frontal lobe function is highly dependent on white matter connections with subcortical and cortical networks. Normal aging often results in deficits in functions controlled by the frontal lobes, as well as decrements in white-matter connectivity. Objectives of this study included comparing non-time-constrained tasks of verbal divergent processing in young adults (YAs) and older adults (OAs) and correlating performance with tasks of working memory, language ability, and disengagement/inhibition. Participants were 30 YAs and 30 OAs. Contrary to the a priori hypothesis, OAs produced significantly more unique responses than YAs, although total fluency was not significantly different. Correlational analyses examining the groups together and separately revealed a number of differences suggesting that the groups were utilizing different underlying cognitive abilities to complete these tasks. Future studies are needed to test the hypothesis that the primary factor resulting in higher uniqueness scores for the OAs was a greater wealth of experiences, including in the use of language. © 2014 Copyright Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Leon SA; Altmann LJP; Abrams L; Gonzalez Rothi LJ; Heilman KM
  • Start Page

  • 21
  • End Page

  • 29
  • Volume

  • 26
  • Issue

  • 1