The Aha! Moment The Cognitive Neuroscience of Insight
“Inspired by Louis Pasteur’s famous comment “Chance favors only the prepared mind,” we examined brain activity immediately preceding the display of each problem.”
“For example, a recent fMRI study showed that people are more likely to solve problems with insight if they are in a positive mood when they arrive at the lab than if they are in a neutral or negative one (Subramaniam, Kounios, Parrish, & Jung-Beeman, 2009).”
Abstract (Via Psychological Insight)
A sudden comprehension that solves a problem, reinterprets a situation, explains a joke, or resolves an ambiguous percept is called an insight (i.e., the “Aha! moment”). Psychologists have studied insight using behavioral methods for nearly a century. Recently, the tools of cognitive neuroscience have been applied to this phenomenon. A series of studies have used electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study the neural correlates of the “Aha! moment” and its antecedents. Although the experience of insight is sudden and can seem disconnected from the immediately preceding thought, these studies show that insight is the culmination of a series of brain states and processes operating at different time scales. Elucidation of these precursors suggests interventional opportunities for the facilitation of insight.