Efficient search under constraints and not working memory resources supports creative action emergence in a convergent motor task

Dominic Orth*, Luke McDonic, Chris Ashbrook, John van der Kamp

*Corresponding author for this work

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Creative (original and functional) solutions to problems can be facilitated by guiding search behavior. According to cognitive models, when solving convergent tasks (tasks with few solutions), high available working memory (WM) resources and capacity can guide creative solution emergence via repeated (persistent) search within a solution subcategory. However, no clear associations have been found of WM capacity on creative outcomes when tasks require the individual to enact solutions in divergent doing tasks. This study further tested constraints on WM resources on search behavior and creative outcomes in a convergent doing task. Novices to combat sports were asked to repeatedly strike a target with the intent to achieve an individualized target force. In order to manipulate available WM resources, every ten strikes, participants were asked to recall and then retain a sequence of 5 digits (high load group: n = 21) or 2 digits (low load group: n = 21). The task constraints favored the functionality (or appropriateness) of a qualitatively distinct, non-obvious solution. Functionality was assessed using the force registered for each strike. Originality was assessed in terms of how infrequently actions occurred. Finally, search behavior was quantified based on changes in which limb was used and changes in which part of the limb was used from one strike to the next. There were no significant effects of WM load on creativity outcomes, solution search, or task success. Rather, task success was related to efficient search and creativity. Future research should focus on constraints (other than WM resources) that promote efficient search.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102505
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalHuman Movement Science
Early online date23 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019


  • Affordances
  • Convergent problem solving
  • Exploration
  • Functional movement variability
  • Motor creativity
  • Striking actions
  • Working memory


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