Creativity reflects the remarkable human capacity to produce novel and effective ideas. Empirical work suggests that creative ideas do not just emerge out of nowhere but typically result from goal-directed memory processes. Specifically, creative ideation is supported by controlled retrieval, involves semantic and episodic memory, builds on processes used in memory construction and differentially recruits memory at different stages in the creative process. In this Perspective, we propose a memory in creative ideation (MemiC) framework that describes how creative ideas arise across four distinguishable stages of memory search, candidate idea construction, novelty evaluation and effectiveness evaluation. We discuss evidence supporting the contribution of semantic and episodic memory to each stage of creative ideation. The MemiC framework overcomes the shortcomings of previous creativity theories by accounting for the controlled, dynamic involvement of different memory systems across separable ideation stages and offers a clear agenda for future creativity research.
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The authors thank The University of Graz for supporting this work by granting a COLIBRI fellowship to Y.N.K.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Benedek, M., Beaty, R.E., Schacter, D.L. et al. The role of memory in creative ideation. Nat Rev Psychol 2, 246–257 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s44159-023-00158-z