Creative Motor Actions As Emerging from Movement Variability

Dominic Orth, John van der Kamp, Daniel Memmert, Geert J. P. Savelsbergh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)
42 Downloads (Pure)


In cognitive science, creative ideas are defined as original and feasible solutions in response to problems. A common proposal is that creative ideas are generated across dedicated cognitive pathways. Only after creative ideas have emerged, they can be enacted to solve the problem. We present an alternative viewpoint, based upon the dynamic systems approach to perception and action, that creative solutions emerge in the act rather than before. Creative actions, thus, are as much a product of individual constraints as they are of the task and environment constraints. Accordingly, we understand creative motor actions as functional movement patterns that are new to the individual and/or group and adapted to satisfy the constraints on the motor problem at hand. We argue that creative motor actions are promoted by practice interventions that promote exploration by manipulating constraints. Exploration enhances variability of functional movement patterns in terms of either coordination or control solutions. At both levels, creative motor actions can emerge from finding new and degenerate adaptive motor solutions. Generally speaking, we anticipate that in most cases, when exposed to variation in constraints, people are not looking for creative motor actions, but discover them while doing an effort to satisfy constraints. For future research, this paper achieves two important aspects: it delineates how adaptive (movement) variability is at the heart of (motor) creativity, and it sets out methodologies toward stimulating adaptive variability.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1903
Pages (from-to)1-8
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017


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