ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

心理科学进展 ›› 2022, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (11): 2507-2517.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2022.02507

• 研究前沿 • 上一篇    下一篇


陈群林(), 丁珂()   

  1. 西南大学心理学部, 重庆 400715
  • 收稿日期:2021-11-15 出版日期:2022-11-15 发布日期:2022-11-09
  • 通讯作者: 陈群林,丁珂;
  • 基金资助:

Serial order effect during divergent thinking: A new perspective on the dynamic mechanism of creative thought processes

CHEN Qunlin(), DING Ke()   

  1. Faculty of Psychology, Southwest University, Chongqing 400715, China
  • Received:2021-11-15 Online:2022-11-15 Published:2022-11-09
  • Contact: CHEN Qunlin,DING Ke;


发散思维的序列位置效应是指随着时间的推移, 单位时间内想法生成的数量逐渐降低, 但想法的独创性逐渐升高的现象。联想理论和执行控制假说分别侧重对序列位置效应的个体差异和认知加工过程进行解释。神经影像学研究表明, 在想法产生的整个阶段序列位置效应依赖于默认网络后部和突显网络的持续增强激活和协同合作; 在想法产生的后期阶段, 颞-顶区域alpha能量值以及执行控制网络与默认网络的协同模式增强。未来研究需要结合语义和神经动态分析等技术, 对序列位置效应的特异性机制、动态加工机制以及影响因素进行深入探究, 从而为解构创新思维的动态过程提供新的视角。

关键词: 发散思维, 序列位置效应, 创新想法, 动态性, 神经机制


The serial order effect in divergent thinking (DT) is one of the most robust findings in the field of creativity research. This effect refers to the phenomenon that the number of generated ideas decreases, whereas the originality of ideas increases across time while performing DT tasks. A body of studies showed that the serial order effect can be evidenced in a range of age samples, various types of divergent thinking tasks, and different scoring methods.

There are two possible explanations for the occurrence of the serial order effect. Mednick's association theory indicates that the generation of creative ideas is an automatic retrieval process that spatially follows a progressive search pattern from the spread activation of proximal concepts to distant ones. This activation pattern will gradually spread over time from close, obvious associations to distant, unusual associations, thus the quality of ideas gradually shifts from conventional to novel. In addition, the association theory emphasizes that the structure of an individual's semantic network is critical for the generation of novel ideas. For example, individuals with a flexible semantic network are more capable of coming up with novel ideas. On the other hand, a growing number of studies supported that top-down control processing is the key to the emergence of the serial order effect during DT. Relevant findings were mainly focused on: (1) the selection and use of strategies during idea generation leading to the serial order effect, (2) category switching during idea generation leading to the serial order effect, and (3) executive functions related to the serial order effect of divergent thinking. In conclusion, the association theory and the executive control hypothesis focus on explaining individual differences in the serial order effect and cognitive processing, respectively.

Several neuroimaging studies have shown the executive control network centered over the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex that connects with the semantic memory-related lateral temporal cortex to suppress obvious and conventional ideas at the early stage of idea generation. With the decreasing interference from obvious and conventional ideas over time, the semantic retrieval space, the semantic distance of cues and concepts retrieving would gradually increase. During the process, the executive control network centered over the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex shifts its function to controlled semantic retrieval therefore select and evaluate for potential ideas in the working memory space. The pattern of neural activation is manifested by the executive control network coupling with the default mode network, specifically the co-activation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the inferior frontal gyrus, the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, and the hippocampus which is subordinate to the default mode network. However, there are relatively few studies on the neuronal mechanisms underlying the serial order effect, and these studies mainly focus on the cognitive processes of single idea generation. Thus far, the current explanatory framework mostly employed cognitive and neuroimaging findings on creative thinking. Future research needs to combine cognitive and computational models, semantic analysis, brain dynamic analytical approaches, and representational similarity analysis to explore the cognitive and neural mechanisms of the serial order effect, as to provide a new perspective for deconstructing the dynamic process of creative thinking.

Key words: divergent thinking, serial order effect, creative idea, dynamic processes, neural mechanism