Naama Mayseless is a postdoctoral fellow working with Dr. Allan Reiss in the Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research (CiBSR) at Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Mayseless obtained her Bachelor degree in Physics (2004) from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a Research Master in Neuroscience (2007) from Haifa University (Israel). She obtained a PhD in Social Psychology from Haifa University (Israel) in 2015 for her work on the neuroscience of creative ability.

Currently, Dr. Mayseless is conducting research on a brain-based model of team interactivity which incorporates brain-to-brain synchrony related to team collaboration. A goal of this work is to create an inter-brain synchrony model of team collaboration that can inform successful team collaborations. In addition, Dr. Mayseless is conducting research on the neuro-developmental trajectories of creativity and its relation to humor and mathematical ability.

Professional Education

  • Doctor of Philosophy, University Of Haifa (2015)
  • Master of Arts, University Of Haifa (2007)
  • Bachelor of Arts, Hebrew University Of Jerusalem (2004)

Stanford Advisors

All Publications

  • The oxytocinergic system mediates synchronized interpersonal movement during dance. Scientific reports Josef, L., Goldstein, P., Mayseless, N., Ayalon, L., Shamay-Tsoory, S. G. 2019; 9 (1): 1894


    Because the oxytocinergic (OT) system has previously been linked to regulation of complex social cognition and behavior, we examined whether intranasal administration of OT would modulate synchronization during a real-life dance paradigm. The current study examined pairs of friends while dancing after intranasal administration of OT or placebo. Motion tracking software and a computational model were utilized to measure synchrony between the partners as manifested in the velocity of their movements. In line with our predictions, OT increased synchrony between partners. This effect was stronger for individuals with higher trait empathy scores. We concluded that the OT system plays an important role in promoting interpersonal synchrony during dance, suggesting that OT underlies the kinesthetic dimension of empathy. Although the biological mechanisms underlying empathy have been studied extensively, scientifically validated knowledge about the kinesthetic dimension of empathy is still lacking. The current study supports the hypothesis that interpersonal synchronization in body movement could be a marker of kinesthetic empathy.

    View details for PubMedID 30760751

  • Real-life creative problem solving in teams: fNIRS based hyperscanning study. NeuroImage Mayseless, N., Hawthorne, G., Reiss, A. L. 2019: 116161


    It is often assumed that groups of individuals can work together to achieve innovation and solve complex problems they are unable to solve on their own. One of the underlying assumptions is that a group can be more creative and innovative than single individuals. Previous research has begun to examine the process by which problem solving occurs in teams looking to achieve innovation. Despite this progress, a clear, brain-based model that informs how team interactivity contributes and impacts the outcome of an innovation event is lacking. Here we present a naturalistic study designed to examine creative problem solving involving team cooperation. We used functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to measure inter-brain synchrony (IBS) between interacting partners engaged in a creative design task. Results implicate the involvement of cognitive control coupled with the mentalizing and mirror neuron networks in IBS. Post hoc behavioral and temporal analyses revealed an increase in cooperation over time in association with reduction in IBS. Our results demonstrate the importance of a naturalistic design for investigating the neural underpinnings of team interactions as well as suggest a possible mechanism for team creativity.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2019.116161

    View details for PubMedID 31493532

  • Creativity in the Twenty-first Century: The Added Benefit of Training and Cooperation DESIGN THINKING RESEARCH: MAKING DISTINCTIONS: COLLABORATION VERSUS COOPERATION Mayseless, N., Saggar, M., Hawthorne, G., Reiss, A., Plattner, H., Meinel, C., Leifer, L. 2018: 239–49
  • The role of oxytocin in modulating interpersonal space: A pharmacological fMRI study. Psychoneuroendocrinology Cohen, D., Perry, A., Gilam, G., Mayseless, N., Gonen, T., Hendler, T., Shamay-Tsoory, S. G. 2017; 76: 77–83


    Interpersonal space is a nonverbal indicator of affiliation and closeness. In this study we investigated the effects of oxytocin (OT), a neuropeptide known for its social role in humans, on interpersonal space. In a double blind placebo controlled study we measured the effect of intranasal OT on the personal distance preferences of different familiar (friend) and unfamiliar (stranger) protagonists. Behavioral results showed that participants preferred to be closer to a friend than to a stranger. Intranasal OT was associated with an overall distancing effect, but this effect was significant for the stranger and not for the friend. The imaging results showed interactions between treatment (OT, placebo) and protagonist (friend, stranger) in regions that mediate social behavior including the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC), a region associated with the mentalizing system. Specifically, OT increased activity in the dmPFC when a friend approached the participants but not when a stranger approached. The results indicate that the effect of OT on interpersonal space greatly depends on the participant's relationship with the protagonist. This supports the social salience theory, according to which OT increases the salience of social cues depending on the context.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2016.10.021

    View details for PubMedID 27889465

  • A possible effect of methylphenidate on state anxiety: A single dose, placebo controlled, crossover study in a control group PSYCHIATRY RESEARCH Segev, A., Gvirts, H. Z., Strouse, K., Mayseless, N., Gelbard, H., Lewis, Y. D., Barnea, Y., Feffer, K., Shamay-Tsoory, S. G., Bloch, Y. 2016; 241: 232-235


    Methylphenidate affects state-anxiety in ADHD patients. The current study examines the effect of Methylphenidate on state-anxiety in healthy subjects. In a cross-over, randomized, controlled, double-blind study, 36 healthy subjects received either Methylphenidate or placebo. As a group, no change in state-anxiety was detected with Methylphenidate. However, participants reporting higher anxiety levels experienced a significant and specific state-anxiety reduction following Methylphenidate. Moreover, a strong negative correlation was found between the initial-level of anxiety and net-change in state-anxiety. These changes were unrelated to self-perceived attention levels. Our results point to the state-dependent effects of Methylphenidate on anxiety.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.psychres.2016.05.009

    View details for Web of Science ID 000379370900038

    View details for PubMedID 27183109

  • Novelty-seeking trait predicts the effect of methylphenidate on creativity. Journal of psychopharmacology (Oxford, England) Gvirts, H. Z., Mayseless, N., Segev, A., Lewis, D. Y., Feffer, K., Barnea, Y., Bloch, Y., Shamay-Tsoory, S. G. 2016


    In recent years the use of psychostimulants for cognitive enhancement in healthy individuals with no psychiatric disorders has been on the rise. However, it is still unclear whether psychostimulants improve certain cognitive functions at the cost of others, and how these psychostimulants interact with individual personality differences. In the current study, we investigated whether the effect of one common stimulant, methylphenidate (MPH), on creativity is associated with novelty seeking. Thirty-six healthy adults, without attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptomology, were assigned randomly in a double-blind fashion to receive MPH or placebo. We found that the effect of MPH on creativity was dependent on novelty-seeking (NS) personality characteristics of the participants. MPH increased creativity in individuals with lower NS, while it reduced creativity levels in individuals with high NS. These findings highlight the role of the dopaminergic system in creativity, and indicate that among healthy individuals NS can be seen as a predictor of the effect of MPH on creativity.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/0269881116667703

    View details for PubMedID 27624151

  • Generating original ideas: The neural underpinning of originality NEUROIMAGE Mayseless, N., Eran, A., Shamay-Tsoory, S. G. 2015; 116: 232-239


    One of the key aspects of creativity is the ability to produce original ideas. Originality is defined in terms of the novelty and rarity of an idea and is measured by the infrequency of the idea compared to other ideas. In the current study we focused on divergent thinking (DT) - the ability to produce many alternate ideas - and assessed the neural pathways associated with originality. Considering that generation of original ideas involves both the ability to generate new associations and the ability to overcome automatic common responses, we hypothesized that originality would be associated with activations in regions related to associative thinking, including areas of the default mode network (DMN) such as medial prefrontal areas, as well as with areas involved in cognitive control and inhibition. Thirty participants were scanned while performing a DT task that required the generation of original uses for common objects. The results indicate that the ability to produce original ideas is mediated by activity in several regions that are part of the DMN including the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC). Furthermore, individuals who are more original exhibited enhanced activation in the ventral anterior cingulate cortex (vACC), which was also positively coupled with activity in the left occipital-temporal area. These results are in line with the dual model of creativity, according to which original ideas are a product of the interaction between a system that generates ideas and a control system that evaluates these ideas.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.05.030

    View details for Web of Science ID 000355930200023

    View details for PubMedID 26003860



    Creativity is the production of novel ideas that have value. Previous research indicated that while regions in the right hemisphere are implicated in the production of new ideas, damage to the left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) is associated with increased creativity, indicating that the left IFG damage may have a "releasing" effect on creativity. To examine this, in the present study we used transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to modulate activity of the right and the left IFG. In the first experiment we show that whereas anodal tDCS over the right IFG coupled with cathodal tDCS over the left IFG increases creativity as measured by a verbal divergent thinking task, the reverse stimulation does not affect creative production. To further confirm that only altering the balance between the two hemispheres is crucial in modulating creativity, in the second experiment we show that stimulation targeting separately the left IFG (cathodal stimulation) or the right IFG (anodal stimulation) did not result in changes in creativity as measured by verbal divergent thinking. These findings support the balance hypothesis, according to which verbal creativity requires a balance of activation between the right and the left frontal lobes, and more specifically, between the right and the left IFG.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2015.01.061

    View details for Web of Science ID 000351303100015

    View details for PubMedID 25659343

  • Unleashing creativity: The role of left temporoparietal regions in evaluating and inhibiting the generation of creative ideas NEUROPSYCHOLOGIA Mayseless, N., Aharon-Peretz, J., Shamay-Tsoory, S. 2014; 64: 157-168


    Human creativity is thought to entail two processes. One is idea generation, whereby ideas emerge in an associative manner, and the other is idea evaluation, whereby generated ideas are evaluated and screened. Thus far, neuroimaging studies have identified several brain regions as being involved in creativity, yet only a handful of studies have examined the neural basis underlying these two processes. We found that an individual with left temporoparietal hemorrhage who had no previous experience as an artist developed remarkable artistic creativity, which diminished as the hemorrhage receded. We thus hypothesized that damage to the evaluation network of creativity during the initial hematoma had a releasing effect on creativity by "freeing" the idea generation system. In line with this hypothesis, we conducted a subsequent fMRI study showing that decreased left temporal and parietal activations among healthy individuals as they evaluated creative ideas selectively predicted higher creativity. The current studies provide converging multi-method evidence suggesting that the left temporoparietal area is part of a neural network involved in evaluating creativity, and that as such may act as inhibitors of creativity. We propose an explanatory model of creativity centered upon the key role of the left temporoparietal regions in evaluating and inhibiting creativity.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2014.09.022

    View details for Web of Science ID 000345734500016

    View details for PubMedID 25261613

  • Oxytonergic circuitry sustains and enables creative cognition in humans SOCIAL COGNITIVE AND AFFECTIVE NEUROSCIENCE De Dreu, C. K., Baas, M., Roskes, M., Sligte, D. J., Ebstein, R. P., Chew, S. H., Tong, T., Jiang, Y., Mayseless, N., Shamay-Tsoory, S. G. 2014; 9 (8): 1159-1165


    Creativity enables humans to adapt flexibly to changing circumstances, to manage complex social relations and to survive and prosper through social, technological and medical innovations. In humans, chronic, trait-based as well as temporary, state-based approach orientation has been linked to increased capacity for divergent rather than convergent thinking, to more global and holistic processing styles and to more original ideation and creative problem solving. Here, we link creative cognition to oxytocin, a hypothalamic neuropeptide known to up-regulate approach orientation in both animals and humans. Study 1 (N = 492) showed that plasma oxytocin predicts novelty-seeking temperament. Study 2 (N = 110) revealed that genotype differences in a polymorphism in the oxytocin receptor gene rs1042778 predicted creative ideation, with GG/GT-carriers being more original than TT-carriers. Using double-blind placebo-controlled between-subjects designs, Studies 3-6 (N = 191) finally showed that intranasal oxytocin (vs matching placebo) reduced analytical reasoning, and increased holistic processing, divergent thinking and creative performance. We conclude that the oxytonergic circuitry sustains and enables the day-to-day creativity humans need for survival and prosperity and discuss implications.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/scan/nst094

    View details for Web of Science ID 000342984900015

    View details for PubMedID 23863476

  • Expertise in Musical Improvisation and Creativity: The Mediation of Idea Evaluation PLOS ONE Kleinmintz, O. M., Goldstein, P., Mayseless, N., Abecasis, D., Shamay-Tsoory, S. G. 2014; 9 (7)


    The current study explored the influence of musical expertise, and specifically training in improvisation on creativity, using the framework of the twofold model, according to which creativity involves a process of idea generation and idea evaluation. Based on the hypothesis that a strict evaluation phase may have an inhibiting effect over the generation phase, we predicted that training in improvisation may have a "releasing effect" on the evaluation system, leading to greater creativity. To examine this hypothesis, we compared performance among three groups--musicians trained in improvisation, musicians not trained in improvisation, and non-musicians--on divergent thinking tasks and on their evaluation of creativity. The improvisation group scored higher on fluency and originality compared to the other two groups. Among the musicians, evaluation of creativity mediated how experience in improvisation was related to originality and fluency scores. It is concluded that deliberate practice of improvisation may have a "releasing effect" on creativity.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0101568

    View details for Web of Science ID 000338763800028

    View details for PubMedID 25010334

  • The association between creativity and 7R polymorphism in the dopamine receptor D4 gene (DRD4) FRONTIERS IN HUMAN NEUROSCIENCE Mayseless, N., Uzefovsky, F., Shalev, I., Ebstein, R. P., Shamay-Tsoory, S. G. 2013; 7


    Creativity can be defined as the ability to produce responses that are both novel and appropriate. One way to assess creativity is to measure divergent thinking (DT) abilities that involve generating multiple novel and meaningful responses to open-ended questions. DT abilities have been shown to be associated with dopaminergic (DA) activity, and impaired DT has been reported in populations with DA dysfunctions. Given the strong association between DT and the DA system, the current study examined a group of healthy individuals (N = 185) to determine the role of repeat polymorphism in exon3 of the DRD4 gene in creativity. The results show that individuals carrying the DRD4-7R allele scored significantly lower on tests of DT, particularly on the flexibility dimension of DT, compared to non-carriers. The current findings link creative cognition to the DA system and suggest that DA dysfunctions in neurological and psychiatric disorders may account for impaired creativity and cognitive flexibility in these individuals.

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00502

    View details for Web of Science ID 000323477900001

    View details for PubMedID 23986684

  • Brain activity during processing objects and pseudo-objects: Comparison between adult regular and dyslexic readers CLINICAL NEUROPHYSIOLOGY Mayseless, N., Breznitz, Z. 2011; 122 (2): 284-298


    The role of visual processing deficits in dyslexia remains unclear and continues to stir controversy. Most studies to date have used alphabetic and or other language-dependent patterns. The current study compares how dyslexics and regular readers process non-alphabetic visual patterns.The stimuli were black and white drawings, 50 meaningful (concrete objects) and 50 meaningless (pseudo-objects with no linguistic name) presented visually on a computer screen. Measures included behavioral accuracy and reaction time, event-related potential (ERP), and low resolution electromagnetic tomography (LORETA). The subjects were 15 dyslexic and 15 aged-matched regular readers.The dyslexics exhibited significantly longer reaction time and shorter latencies of P1 and P2 components to both objects and pseudo-objects compared to the regular readers. Data from the LORETA solution analysis indicated significantly different brain activity between the two groups: both exhibited higher left hemisphere activation when viewing objects compared to pseudo-objects; and dyslexics exhibited lower left hemisphere activation when viewing objects and higher right hemisphere activation when viewing pseudo-objects during the early stages of processing.The results support the notion that brain activation of dyslexic readers differs from that of the regular readers when processing non-alphabetic patterns, and that the differences appear from the early stage of processing.These results emphasize that differences in brain activity between dyslexic and regular readers can be seen even in a non-alphabetic task, and in early stages of processing.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.clinph.2010.06.029

    View details for Web of Science ID 000285995400012

    View details for PubMedID 20656552

  • Can Intervention Programs Influence How the Dyslexic Brain Processes Low-Level Visual Stimuli? DEVELOPMENTAL NEUROPSYCHOLOGY Mayseless, N. 2011; 36 (7): 949-954


    This preliminary study employed event-related potentials (ERPs) to determine the effect of different intervention programs for dyslexia. Two intervention programs were used; the CogniFit Personal Coach (CPC) and the Reading Acceleration Program (RAP). Differences between a small group of dyslexic readers and a control group of regular readers were examined on two visual oddball tasks. The two oddball tasks included a non-alphabetic task and a non-contextual alphabetic one. The amplitude and latency of ERP component P1 is reported here, showing a decrease in amplitude and an increase in latency after training, suggesting an amplitude-latency tradeoff after visual training.

    View details for DOI 10.1080/87565641.2011.606421

    View details for Web of Science ID 000296615500011

    View details for PubMedID 21978016

  • The origins of originality: The neural bases of creative thinking and originality NEUROPSYCHOLOGIA Shamay-Tsoory, S. G., ADLER, N., Aharon-Peretz, J., Perry, D., Mayseless, N. 2011; 49 (2): 178-185


    Although creativity has been related to prefrontal activity, recent neurological case studies postulate that patients who have left frontal and temporal degeneration involving deterioration of language abilities may actually develop de novo artistic abilities. In this study, we propose a neural and cognitive model according to which a balance between the two hemispheres affects a major aspect of creative cognition, namely, originality. In order to examine the neural basis of originality, that is, the ability to produce statistically infrequent ideas, patients with localized lesions in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), inferior frontal gyrus (IFG), and posterior parietal and temporal cortex (PC), were assessed by two tasks involving divergent thinking and originality. Results indicate that lesions in the mPFC involved the most profound impairment in originality. Furthermore, precise anatomical mapping of lesions indicated that while the extent of lesion in the right mPFC was associated with impaired originality, lesions in the left PC were associated with somewhat elevated levels of originality. A positive correlation between creativity scores and left PC lesions indicated that the larger the lesion is in this area the greater the originality. On the other hand, a negative correlation was observed between originality scores and lesions in the right mPFC. It is concluded that the right mPFC is part of a right fronto-parietal network which is responsible for producing original ideas. It is possible that more linear cognitive processing such as language, mediated by left hemisphere structures interferes with creative cognition. Therefore, lesions in the left hemisphere may be associated with elevated levels of originality.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2010.11.020

    View details for Web of Science ID 000287111800002

    View details for PubMedID 21126528