Towards understanding the brain basis of design thinking using naturalistic open-ended research paradigm

PI: Manish Saggar


Here, we aim towards developing a novel experimental paradigm that could allow assessing neural and behavioral outcomes of design thinking in its natural, iterative, and open-ended form. Specifically, we propose to i) develop naturalistic stimuli (videos) that carefully capture the design thinking process in its natural form from beginning to the end; ii) develop a functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) paradigm, where participants will first watch naturalistic videos of design processes and later actively perform in an open-ended design task with real-time feedback from the user/designer. Our project will produce multiple usable outcomes. First, the proposed naturalistic stimuli could be used in the future, on its own, for training and educational purposes. Second, passive watching of naturalistic stimuli would allow us to examine the neural correlates of transitory brain dynamics that are usually missed in isolated lab-controlled experiments, e.g., brain basis of switching between design sub-processes or fleeting moments of insights or frustrations. Third, for the first time, using an open-ended design task with realtime feedback would allow us to assess the neural correlates of design thinking process in its entirety and in an ecologically valid timeline.


Jan Auernhammer