The neural correlates of ideation in product design engineering practitioners

L. Hay, A. H. B. Duffy, S. J. Gilbert, L. Lyall, G. Campbell, D. Coyle, M. A. Grealy

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Abstract

In product design engineering (PDE), ideation involves the generation of technical behaviours and physical structures to address specific functional requirements. This differs from generic creative ideation tasks, which emphasise functional and technical considerations less. To advance knowledge about the neural basis of PDE ideation, we present the first fMRI study on professional product design engineers practicing in industry. We aimed to explore brain activation during ideation, and compare activation in open-ended and constrained tasks. Imagery manipulation tasks were contrasted with ideation tasks in a sample of 29 PDE professionals. The key findings were: (1) PDE ideation is associated with greater activity in left cingulate gyrus; (2) there were no significant differences between open-ended and constrained tasks; and (3) a preliminary association with activity in the right superior temporal gyrus was also observed. The results are consistent with existing fMRI work on generic creative ideation, suggesting that PDE ideation may share a number of similarities at the neural level. Future work includes: functional connectivity analysis of open-ended and constrained ideation to further investigate potential differences; investigating the effects of aspects of design expertise/training on processing; and the use of novelty measures directly linked to the designer’s internal processing in fMRI analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere29
Number of pages23
JournalDesign Science
Volume5
Early online date6 Dec 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Dec 2019

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Product Design
Product design
Correlate
Engineering
Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Activation
Chemical activation
Imagery (Psychotherapy)
Gyrus Cinguli
Temporal Lobe
Functional analysis
Processing
Expertise
Industry
Neural Correlates
Manipulation
Brain
Connectivity
Association reactions

Keywords

  • creative design
  • creative ideation
  • creativity
  • design cognition
  • fMRI
  • product design engineering

Cite this

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abstract = "In product design engineering (PDE), ideation involves the generation of technical behaviours and physical structures to address specific functional requirements. This differs from generic creative ideation tasks, which emphasise functional and technical considerations less. To advance knowledge about the neural basis of PDE ideation, we present the first fMRI study on professional product design engineers practicing in industry. We aimed to explore brain activation during ideation, and compare activation in open-ended and constrained tasks. Imagery manipulation tasks were contrasted with ideation tasks in a sample of 29 PDE professionals. The key findings were: (1) PDE ideation is associated with greater activity in left cingulate gyrus; (2) there were no significant differences between open-ended and constrained tasks; and (3) a preliminary association with activity in the right superior temporal gyrus was also observed. The results are consistent with existing fMRI work on generic creative ideation, suggesting that PDE ideation may share a number of similarities at the neural level. Future work includes: functional connectivity analysis of open-ended and constrained ideation to further investigate potential differences; investigating the effects of aspects of design expertise/training on processing; and the use of novelty measures directly linked to the designer’s internal processing in fMRI analysis.",
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The neural correlates of ideation in product design engineering practitioners. / Hay, L.; Duffy, A. H. B.; Gilbert, S. J.; Lyall, L.; Campbell, G.; Coyle, D.; Grealy, M. A.

In: Design Science, Vol. 5, e29, 06.12.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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AU - Grealy, M. A.

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