Differential modulation of performance in insight and divergent thinking tasks with tDCS

Vinod Goel, Iveta Eimontaite, Amit Goel, Igor Schindler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While both insight and divergent thinking tasks are used to study creativity, there are reasons to believe that the two may call upon very different mechanisms. To explore this hypothesis, we administered a verbal insight task (riddles) and a divergent thinking task (verbal fluency) to 16 native English speakers and 16 non-native English speakers after they underwent Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) of the left middle temporal gyrus and right temporo-parietal junction. We found that, in the case of the insight task the depolarization of right temporo-parietal junction and hyperpolarization of left middle temporal gyrus resulted in increased performance, relative to both the control condition and the reverse stimulation condition in both groups (non-native > native speakers). However, in the case of the divergent thinking task, the same pattern of stimulation resulted in a decrease in performance, compared to the reverse stimulation condition, in the non-native speakers. We explain this dissociation in terms of differing task demands of divergent thinking and insight tasks and speculate that the greater sensitivity of non-native speakers to tDCS stimulation may be a function of less entrenched neural networks for non-native languages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-35
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Problem Solving
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Enhancing creativity
  • Fluency
  • Insight
  • Mental set shift
  • Semantic spread
  • TDCS
  • Temporal lobes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


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