Humans have the unique ability to come up with new ideas, create art, and manipulate images. In other words, they have an imagination. Yet up until recently, scientists and philosophers have only been able to use their imagination to guess where the human imagination comes from. But a new study conducted by researchers from Dartmouth just might have found the answer.
E Science News reports that researchers from Dartmouth have found evidence of a “mental workspace,” in the brain that reveals where and how imagination occurs. According to the article, the study asked 15 people to imagine certain abstract visual shapes and then to alter those shapes by either adding other figures to the shapes or breaking them apart into separate pieces. In order to measure brain activity, researchers used MRIs. They found that a large portion of the brain was covered with a cortical and subcortical network that was producing the imagery manipulations. According to the article, the network is very similar to the “mental workspace,” that scholars have said might be where and how humans experience consciousness and have “flexible cognitive abilities.”
The information from the research might help scientists to build computers with the ability to think the way humans think – creatively. Lead author of the study, Alex Schlegal said that knowing more about human creativity can “possible allow us to recreate those same creative processes in machines.