Cognitive neuroscience research has traditionally focused on understanding the brain mechanisms that enable cognition by means of experimental laboratory tasks. With a budding literature, there is growing interest in the application of the related methods and findings to real-world settings. In this opinion paper we explore the potential and promise of employing current cognitive neuroscience methodologies in the field of design. We review recent evidence from preliminary studies that have employed such methods toward identifying the neural bases of design thinking and discuss their impact and limitations. Further, we highlight the importance of pairing neuroscience methods with well-established behavioral paradigms during ecologically-valid, real- world design tasks. Experimental investigations that meet these requirements can generate powerful datasets of neurocognitive measures that can offer new insights into the complex cognitive and brain systems enabling design thinking. We argue that this new knowledge can lead to the development and implementation of new techniques toward cultivating and improving design thinking in design education and professional practice.