Overall, creativity is a whole brain process. The brain is an electrochemical organ that works on the basis of neural activity that occurs in the cortex; it is well demonstrated that "thinking" takes place exclusively within the cortex. There are four main structures in the brain with a "thinking like" cortex. Two of them are the left hemisphere and the right hemisphere. The other two are the left half of the limbic system and the right half of the limbic system. The limbic system is a bilateral complex of specialized structures that deal with such processes as memory, emotion, sequence, time, fight or flight and sensory responses. The principal limbic elements, each with its own cortex, are the hippocampus, the thalamus and the amygdala. Just as the two hemispheres are hardwired together by the corpus callosum, the two halves of the limbic system are similarly joined by the hippocampal commissure.
A model can be constructed that displays the four thinking structures in four quadrants (illustration above). This Whole Brain Model depicts the four structures as viewed from the back of the head. Building on this model, it is also possible to develop two other related models that define the Four Selves and the Creative Self. The Four Selves model describes the thinking characteristics of an individual in every day situations, and the Creative Self model describes them when that same individual is acting creatively.
The Whole Brain Creativity and Innovation model (illustration below) shows how specialized thinking modes are allocated to the four quadrants; interconnecting arrows illustrate the iterative capability of the brain. What I consider to be the most understandable description of the creative process consists of six phases: interest, preparation, incubation, illumination, verification and application. Each step of this process has its own characteristic brain waves.
From a left brain/right brain perspective, the creative process can be diagnosed as follows: Interest (left and right), preparation (left), incubation (right), illumination (right), verification (left) application (left and right). It is a balanced process--four "lefts" and four "rights."
Over the many years that I've worked with this whole brain concept, I've become aware of significant male/female differences in mental processing preferences and competencies. Several are particularly relevant to creativity. It's clear that although both genders have left mode and right mode specialties, they are very different. To take advantage of these differences, it is highly desirable to have a balance of males and females on any creative team. Creative teams comprised of only males or only females are usually mentally incomplete--which often results in them jumping to early conclusions, arriving at poor solutions or both.
In summary, the role of the right hemisphere is essential to the creative process. But it supplies only a quarter of the thinking needed to realize the full creative process. We also need the left hemisphere and both halves of the limbic system to optimize creative output. And gender-balanced teams are clearly the most creatively productive