It may not appear in the shape of a light bulb above your head, but researchers say "Aha!" moments are marked by a surge of electrical activity in the brain.
A new study shows that solving a problem that requires creative insight prompts distinct changes in brain activity that don't occur under normal problem-solving conditions.
"For thousands of years people have said that insight feels different from more straightforward problem solving," says researcher Mark Jung-Beeman, an associate professor of psychology at Northwestern University, in Evanston, Ill. in a news release. "We believe this is the first research showing that distinct computational and neural mechanisms lead to these breakthrough moments."
Surge of Brain Activity Accompanies 'Aha!' Moments
In the study, which appears in the April issue of PloS Biology, researchers compared brain activity in two different experiments.
In the first, study participants were given a series of word problems to solve designed to evoke a distinct "Aha!" moment about half the time they were solved. Using brain imaging techniques, researchers found that activity increased in a small part of the right lobe of the brain called the temporal lobe when the participants reported experiencing creative insight during problem solving. Little activity was detected in this area during noninsight solutions...
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