NEA Research Labs: The Arts, Creativity, Cognition, and Learning

Overview

Each of our Labs on the “Arts, Creativity, Cognition, and Learning” focus on at least two of the following research questions”:

  • What is the relationship between one or more forms of arts participation and other forms of creativity?
  • What are the cognitive and/or social processes of arts-based creativity, and how do they affect learning-related outcomes?
  • How do learning-related outcomes associated with arts participation vary by age, socioeconomic characteristics, other demographic and behavioral patterns, and/or by health or disability status?
  • What are the most effective neurocognitive tests and technologies to measure those outcomes?

Current NEA Research Labs

University of California, San Francisco, CA
Principal Investigator: Charles Limb, MD

The Sound and Music Perception Lab at the University of California, San Francisco will conduct studies to identify neural substrates for creativity across a range of art forms. This lab's principal activity will involve collecting and analyzing data from "genius improvisers" in music, the visual arts, and comedy. Participants in these three art forms will perform an improvisational task, compared with an appropriate control task, while their brains are scanned with a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) device. In addition, participants will complete a battery of assessments, including personality measures, tests of creativity, and tests of cognitive abilities. Researchers will work with SF Jazz, The San Francisco Art Institute, Second City Improvisation Troupe, and Speechless to design experimental tasks suitable for each artistic domain and will help recruit participants. The studies will serve as proof-of-concept for studying improvisation across artistic domains.

The research agenda aims to address the following research questions:

  1. What is the relationship between one or more forms of arts participation and other forms of creativity?; and
  2. What are the cognitive and/or social processes of arts-based creativity, and how do they affect learning-related outcomes?

Other Key Personnel

  • Karen Barrett, PhD

University of California at San Francisco Univeristy logo


Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
Principal Investigator: Jennifer Novak-Leonard, PhD

The Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, & Public Policy at Vanderbilt University will partner with Northwestern University, the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago and with the Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville to develop a NEA Research Lab on “The Arts, Creativity, Cognition, and Learning”. Through the lab, researchers will conduct a nationally representative survey to test the relationship between arts-based creativity and broader types of creativity such as problem-solving, entrepreneurship, and social networking. Furthermore, researchers will conduct a mixed-methods study of Nashville artists to understand how their activities and proclivities intersect with other domains of creativity.

The research agenda will address the following research questions:

  1. What is the relationship between one or more forms of arts participation and other forms of creativity?; and
  2. How do those learning-related outcomes vary by socioeconomic characteristics, by other demographic patterns, and/or by one's stage of life?

Other Key Personnel

  • Norman Bradburn, PhD

For more information on this Lab, see their Research Lab webpage.

Vanderbilt University logo