Sex differences in the relationship between white matter connectivity and creativity

Sephira G. Ryman, Martijn P. van den Heuvel, Ronald A. Yeo, Arvind Caprihan, Jessica Carrasco, Andrei A. Vakhtin, Ranee A. Flores, Christopher Wertz, Rex E. Jung*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Creative cognition emerges from a complex network of interacting brain regions. This study investigated the relationship between the structural organization of the human brain and aspects of creative cognition tapped by divergent thinking tasks. Diffusion weighted imaging (DWI) was used to obtain fiber tracts from 83 segmented cortical regions. This information was represented as a network and metrics of connectivity organization, including connectivity strength, clustering and communication efficiency were computed, and their relationship to individual levels of creativity was examined. Permutation testing identified significant sex differences in the relationship between global connectivity and creativity as measured by divergent thinking tests. Females demonstrated significant inverse relationships between global connectivity and creative cognition, whereas there were no significant relationships observed in males. Node specific analyses revealed inverse relationships across measures of connectivity, efficiency, clustering and creative cognition in widespread regions in females. Our findings suggest that females involve more regions of the brain in processing to produce novel ideas to solutions, perhaps at the expense of efficiency (greater path lengths). Males, in contrast, exhibited few, relatively weak positive relationships across these measures. Extending recent observations of sex differences in connectome structure, our findings of sexually dimorphic relationships suggest a unique topological organization of connectivity underlying the generation of novel ideas in males and females.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)380-389
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Creativity
  • Diffusion imaging
  • Graph theoretical analysis
  • Sex differences


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