What part of the brain is involved in graphic design thinking in landscape architecture?

Yu Ping Tsai, Shih Han Hung, Tsung Ren Huang, William C. Sullivan, Shih An Tang, Chun Yen Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Graphic design thinking is a key skill for landscape architects, but little is known about the links between the design process and brain activity. Based on Goel’s frontal lobe lateralization hypothesis (FLLH), we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan the brain activity of 24 designers engaging in four design processes—viewing, copy drawing, preliminary ideas, and refinement—during graphic design thinking. The captured scans produced evidence of dramatic differences between brain activity when copying an existing graphic and when engaging in graphic design thinking. The results confirm that designs involving more graphic design thinking exhibit significantly more activity in the left prefrontal cortex. These findings illuminate the design process and suggest the possibility of developing specific activities or exercises to promote graphic design thinking in landscape architecture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0258413
JournalPloS one
Issue number12 December
StatePublished - Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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