This study aimed to examine the brain activations of designers during visual association and identify the differences in brain activations caused by distinct visual stimulus types among designers with different creativity levels. Twenty-one professional production designers were recruited and divided into three groups. The top third and bottom third of the participants (7 for each) were divided into high creativity (HC) and low creativity (LC) groups for neural comparison analyses. The derived results are outlined as follows: (i) The brain activations of the production designers notably increased in the prefrontal and parietal regions during visual association; (ii) the spectral power of most HC designers was lower than that of the LC designers; (iii) realist art stimulation evoked strong activation in the anterior ventral regions, whereas abstract art stimulation primarily activated the posterior regions; (iv) the differences in brain activations between the HC and LC designers resulting from realist art stimulation were generally larger than were those resulting from abstract art stimulation; and (v) the brain activations of the HC designers resulting from abstract art stimulation were stronger than were those resulting from realist art stimulation, whereas an opposite trend was observed in the LC designers. Few studies to date have empirically explored the relationship between the creativity levels of designers and their visual association. Enhancing the creative performance of designers should feature among the primary goals of the design industry and design education. This study elucidates a novel approach in this critical research area, although further studies are necessary.
Yu-Cheng Liu, Yu-Hsuan Sylvia Yang and Chaoyun Liang