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Looking for Creativity: Where Do We Look When We Look for New Ideas?

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Recent work using the eye movement monitoring technique has demonstrated that when people are engaged in thought they tend to disengage from the external world by blinking or fixating on an empty portion of the visual field, such as a blank wall, or out the window at the sky. This ‘looking at nothing’ behavior has been observed during thinking that does not explicitly involve visual imagery (mind wandering, insight in problem solving, memory encoding and search) and it is associated with reduced analysis of the external visual environment. Thus, it appears to indicate (and likely facilitate) a shift of attention from external to internal stimuli that benefits creativity and problem solving by reducing the cognitive load and enhancing attention to internally evolving activation. We briefly mention some possible reasons to collect eye movement data in future studies of creativity.

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  • 10/25/2017
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  • Frontiers in Psychology 7:161
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