Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences, Vol. 15, Iss. 2, April, 2011, pp. 175-206
@2011 Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology & Life Sciences


Constraints-induced Emergence of Functional Novelty in Complex Neurobiological Systems: A Basis for Creativity in Sport

Robert Hristovski, Sts. Cyril and Methodius University, Macedonia
Keith Davids, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Duarte Araujo, Technical University of Lisbon, Portugal
Pedro Passos, Technical University of Lisbon, Portugal

Abstract: In this paper we present a model of creativity captured as exploration and production of novel and functionally efficient behaviors, based on the statistical mechanics of disordered systems. In support of the modelling, we highlight examples of creative behaviors from our research in sports like boxing and rugby union. Our experimental results show how manipulation of practice task constraints changes the exploratory breadth of the hierarchically soft-assembled action landscape. Because of action metastability and differing task constraints, the specificity of each assembled movement configuration is unique. Empirically, a movement pattern”s degree of novelty may be assessed by the value of the order parameter describing action. We show that creative and adaptive movement behavior may be induced by at least two types of interven-tions, based on relaxing task constraints which we term direct and indirect. Direct relaxing is typically a function of changing task constraints so that the number of affordances that can satisfy goal constraints increases. Indirect relaxing of constraints occurs when a habitual action is suppressed by, for example, stringent instructional constraints during sports training. That suppression simultaneously relaxes other correlated constraints that enable larger exploratory capacity and new affordances to emerge for the athlete or team.

Keywords: sports creativity, motor creativity, ecological dynamics, affordances, action soft-assembly, replica symmetry breaking