Document Type




Journal Title

Frontiers in Human Neuroscience

Pub Date





Inspiration is a motivational state that compels individuals to bring ideas into fruition. Creators have long argued that inspiration is important to the creative process, but until recently, scientists have not investigated this claim. In this article, we review challenges to the study of creative inspiration, as well as solutions to these challenges afforded by theoretical and empirical work on inspiration over the past decade. First, we discuss the problem of definitional ambiguity, which has been addressed through an integrative process of construct conceptualization. Second, we discuss the challenge of how to operationalize inspiration. This challenge has been overcome by the development and validation of the Inspiration Scale (IS), which may be used to assess trait or state inspiration. Third, we address ambiguity regarding how inspiration differs from related concepts (creativity, insight, positive affect) by discussing discriminant validity. Next, we discuss the preconception that inspiration is less important than "perspiration" (effort), and we review empirical evidence that inspiration and effort both play important- but different-roles in the creative process. Finally, with many challenges overcome, we argue that the foundation is now set for a new generation of research focused on neural under pinnings. We discuss potential challenges to and opportunities for the neuroscientific study of inspiration. A better understanding of the biological basis of inspiration will illuminate the process through which creative ideas "fire the soul," such that individuals are compelled to transform ideas into products and solutions that may benefit society.