Examining the role of design reflection and associated brain dynamics in creativity

PI: Manish Saggar


Design reflection has been shown of critical import for the development of design expertise. We know little about how design reflection affects creative performance in individuals and teams. Previous researchers limited the study of reflection to the domain of language used and its reference to the design problem or solution space. Last year, we set out to perform a cross-disciplinary investigation, across the three domains of neuroscience, design interaction, and speech analysis, to quantify the reflection processes and link them to individual differences in creativity and design thinking both at the individual and team levels. This year, we propose to further extend our research towards an ultimate vision of developing a real-time closed-loop system that can putatively assist designers on the fly and nudge them towards “healthy” reflection and away from “unhealthy” ruminative thinking. Specifically, we propose to (1) expand the initial investigation of reflection/rumination to include other cognitive processes like – mind wandering, goal-oriented thinking, as well as exploration and exploitation; and (2) use machine learning based models to track and classify transitions in mental states (e.g., distinguish ruminative from reflective mental states) in real time.


Neeraj Sonalkar

Neeraj is a doctoral student at the Center for Design Research at Stanford University. The question that motivates his … > more

Manish Saggar

Manish Saggar, PhD, is a postdoctoral scholar working with Dr. Allan Reiss at the Center for Interdisciplinary Brain … > more