Sensorimotor-conceptual integration in free walking enhances divergent thinking for young and older adults

Chun Yu Kuo, Yei Yu Yeh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Prior research has shown that free walking can enhance creative thinking. Nevertheless, it remains unclear whether bidirectional body-mind links are essential for the positive effect of free walking on creative thinking. Moreover, it is unknown whether the positive effect can be generalized to older adults. In Experiment 1, we replicated previous findings with two additional groups of young participants. Participants in the rectangular-walking condition walked along a rectangular path while generating unusual uses for chopsticks. Participants in the free-walking group walked freely as they wished, and participants in the free-generation condition generated unconstrained free paths while the participants in the random-experienced condition walked those paths. Only the free-walking group showed better performance in fluency, flexibility, and originality. In Experiment 2, two groups of older adults were randomly assigned to the free-walking and rectangular-walking conditions. The free-walking group showed better performance than the rectangular-walking group. Moreover, older adults in the free-walking group outperformed young adults in the rectangular-walking group in originality and performed comparably in fluency and flexibility. Bidirectional links between proprioceptive-motor kinematics and metaphorical abstract concepts can enhance divergent thinking for both young and older adults.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1580
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Issue numberOCT
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Oct 13
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Cognitive processes
  • Creativity
  • Divergent thinking
  • Embodied cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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