Found this interesting article on scientific research into daydreaming and its link to a neural network known as the “default brain network”.
“The discovery of the default brain network is important, as it involves various aspects of our self, such as our self-representations, dreams, imagination, current concerns, autobiographical memory and perspective-taking ability. Those with higher default network activity during rest have a tendency to daydream more frequently, which makes sense if one thinks of the default network as involving our inner stream of consciousness.”
This sounds suspiciously like intuition (both Ne and Ni) to me, as defined by Jung. The article goes on to describe how researchers found that the more creative a subject, the more activity in their default-mode network was altered.
The creativity test they used has been linked in prior studies to Openness to Experience (the Big Five correlate to Intuition) and frequency of visual hypnagogic experiences (e.g. lucid dreaming, hallucinations), which in turn have been associated with vividness of mental imagery.
Particularly, creative individuals had difficulty suppressing the precuneus area of their default network while engaging in an effortful working memory task. The precuneus is the area of the default network that typically displays the highest levels of activation during rest (when a person is not focusing on an external task). The precuneus has been linked to self-related mental representations and episodic memory retrieval.
How is this conducive to creativity? According to the researchers, “Such an inability to suppress seemingly unnecessary cognitive activity may actually help creative subjects in associating two ideas represented in different networks.”
The key to functional creativity, then, seems to be the ability to keep one’s internal stream of consciousness “on call” while being able to concentrate on a task. The author goes on to discuss how subjects with this type of mental flexibility have more confidence in their intuitions because they actually have more accurate intuitions.
I’ve scanned the referenced papers, and the general conclusion is that there may be biological differences which explain why some people have stronger creative (intuitive) abilities! This is exciting stuff, as it provides sound neuroscientific evidence for distinct differences in brain activity between types with a Sensing or Intuitive preference.