[Dr. Carola Salvi, Ph.D]

Who Am I?

I research the neural mechanisms underlying problem solving and creativity: how an idea is born, emerges, and develops in our mind.

My research has specialized in understanding how the vision-system is involved in processing insight and what are the attentive correlates of this modulation. People often report having their best creative ideas while they are shutting their eyes, looking on a white

wall or out the window. What does our attention system do when we

‘think outside the box’?? [NOW Published!]

Looking for creativity: where do we look when we look for new IDEAS? Published

"Aha is right!" Should we trust our insights? [NOW published!]

I also investigate whether the feeling of certainty that accompanies insight corresponds to an increased accuracy in people's responses, and I am interested to know how that certainty relates to motivation and risk taking in pursuit of ideas.

Insight in Italy [PUBLISHED]

Since May 2013 I have been involved in a project to create and validate the Italian version of two pools of problems: The Rebus Problems  of MacGregor and Cunningham (2008) and the CRA word problems by and Bowden and Jung-Beeman (2003), funded by the Banco del Monte di Lombardia Foundation


Recently my work has turned towards investigating the role played by the dopamine system  in problem solving and how that affects risk and reward. Specifically, I am researching what happens after people have a creative idea or solve a problem, and what is the role played by the dopamine system in this scenario.

Are they more willing to take risks and make investments after having solved a problem with an Aha! moment, or analytically? Which idea / solution types are more likely to bring about action and follow- through?

And of course, the big question on so many minds:

how can we enhance problem solving and creativity?

Recently I’m interested in studying non invasive brain stimulation (TDCS) during insight problem solving.

I'm currently working on these projects in collaboration with Prof. M. Beeman of Northwestern University (lab Page) and Prof. Jordan Grafman Shirley Ryan Abilitylab of Chicago and Edward Bowden University of Wisconsin-Parkside.