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Eureka moment


Royston
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Wasn't too sure where to put this, maybe belongs in physiology/neuroscience ?

 

I tried searching for this last night, but I was very tired so probably overlooked something...anyway, what I was wondering, have there been any studies in to what happens in the brain when there's that eureka moment. I realize this maybe a hard moment to capture under lab conditions, but certainly not impossible.

 

I'm coming to the end of my applied maths course, and I've had many 'forehead slapping' moments, when it seems the problem I was struggling on suddenly fits into place, or a certain principle suddenly clicks and 'I get it.'

 

I can't really pin point whether it's a combination of tackling a certain problem from different angles, or approaches and it's that final approach that warrants the 'eureka moment.' However, I'm sure this has happened when I'm thinking about something completely unrelated and something just clicks.

 

So if anybody knows of any studies into this, or if there are any theories on what precisely is going on in the brain when this happens, I'd be really interested.

 

Sorry if this is a little vague, this really isn't my area.

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From what I have experienced, you can have this moment while sleeping mostly or while rested. This is because your subconscious mind is actually working, and trying to solve the problem; you mostly will mot be aware of this.

 

It happened to me a few times, like in the morning 10 mins before getting up, I would imagine the solution of a problem so well, that it hits me like "Duh, why didnt I think of it before", even for some really complex problems!

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i don't think there'll be much in the way of this sort of research until there's a greater understanding of the way the brain works.

i suspect that the eureka moment or when the penny drops is like switching the process from one structure to another or adding another group of neurons to the mix.

 

in that study, adding took a subtly different structure to subtracting, that difference could be measured. i think that in some instances it's about getting right set of neurons firing with just that little bit of background noise.

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Aha! These guys seem to focus specifically on this. Be sure to check out their research page and the references they cite in their papers.

 

;)

 

 

http://biology.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pbio.0020111

Recent findings suggest that people think about solutions, at an unconscious level, prior to solving insight problems, and that the right cerebral hemisphere (RH) appears to be preferentially involved. Jung-Beeman et al. predicted that a particular region of the RH, called the anterior superior temporal gyrus (aSTG), is likely involved in insight because it seems critical for tasks that require recognizing broad associative semantic relationships—exactly the type of process that could facilitate reinterpretation of problems and lead to insight.

 

http://www.psych.northwestern.edu/~mjungbee/research.htm

 

 

And a nifty NPR short on it:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1838162

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Using scanners' date=' researchers have pinpointed the area of the brain where the mental process that results in sudden insight occurs. [b']It's the same area where the brain activity that helps us understand jokes and metaphors takes place. [/b]NPR's Jon Hamilton reports.

 

I find that quite interesting

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I tried searching for this last night' date=' but I was very tired so probably overlooked something...anyway, what I was wondering, have there been any studies in to what happens in the brain when there's that eureka moment. I realize this maybe a hard moment to capture under lab conditions, but certainly not impossible.[/quote']I remember learning about this in psychology 101. I forget what exactly it is but it isn't some sort of mystical phenomenon.

 

Rocket Man said for instance "i don't think there'll be much in the way of this sort of research until there's a greater understanding of the way the brain works" but this isn't at all the case.

 

If I can get ahold of either my notes or my psychology book I'll respond back with the official scientific understanding of the issue, though I doubt I'll be seeing either for a few weeks :(

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If I can get ahold of either my notes or my psychology book I'll respond back with the official scientific understanding of the issue, though I doubt I'll be seeing either for a few weeks :(

 

Thanks 1veedo, I'll look forward to it.

 

iNow, I had a quick scan of the articles, and that's precisely what I was looking for, so thanks...I'll have a proper read at work tomorrow, bit busy with my assessment at the moment. :)

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iNow, I had a quick scan of the articles, and that's precisely what I was looking for, so thanks...

Glad it helped. Using the text in the quote I inserted above, I found the following google scholar search results with multiple studies on this:

 

http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&lr=&q=anterior+superior+temporal+gyrus+eureka

 

 

Terms = anterior superior temporal gyrus eureka

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"Recent findings suggest that people think about solutions, at an unconscious level, prior to solving insight problems, and that the right cerebral hemisphere (RH) appears to be preferentially involved. Jung-Beeman et al. predicted that a particular region of the RH, called the anterior superior temporal gyrus (aSTG), is likely involved in insight because it seems critical for tasks that require recognizing broad associative semantic relationships—exactly the type of process that could facilitate reinterpretation of problems and lead to insight."

 

The unconscious triumphs once again!

 

Chalk another one up. ;):D:cool:

 

Cheers.

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iNow, I will come back to this. I'm still trying to wrap my head around precisely what's going on with a Eureka moment i.e putting it into an analogy.

 

But so far, I guess it could be considered like this...

 

We have two pathways running parallel to each other, they can be treated as two unrelated concepts, or ideas or some such. Ahead there are multiple pathways (a tangled mess), that represent the thoughts trying to tackle linking the two pathways.

 

So trying to tackle the problem becomes hard, because the multiple pathways represent noise, and there's no clear link. By not thinking about the problem, the noise reduces, and the link quite literally finds itself...and hence the Eureka moment. This means, you can be tackling a problem for ages, and it's really only by chance that you get the eureka moment, clearly you have to be thinking about the two concepts to start with, but it 's anybodies guess when the eureka moment actually happens.

 

Sorry if that was incredibly fluffy (and perhaps off the mark), it would be better to have that explained in neurological terms.

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We have two pathways running parallel to each other, they can be treated as two unrelated concepts, or ideas or some such. Ahead there are multiple pathways (a tangled mess), that represent the thoughts trying to tackle linking the two pathways.

 

So trying to tackle the problem becomes hard, because the multiple pathways represent noise, and there's no clear link. By not thinking about the problem, the noise reduces, and the link quite literally finds itself...and hence the Eureka moment. This means, you can be tackling a problem for ages, and it's really only by chance that you get the eureka moment, clearly you have to be thinking about the two concepts to start with, but it 's anybodies guess when the eureka moment actually happens.

Not fluffy at all. I think you've done a great job summarizing it. You work and ponder and calculate and use all of these resources trying to solve a problem. Really what you're doing though is framing the question. You are trying to ascertain which data are relevant and enhance their role and you are trying to discard those data not relevant to the solution or goal you seek.

 

While all of this is happening, there is some really neat stuff going on with your nerve cells. Basically, new connections are being grown and the neural web is becoming "denser." Simultaneously, some branches in this web are being cut, since they no longer 100% valid. This is an extreme oversimplification of the neuroanatomical basis of learning, but represents the process pretty well.

 

Where we are not very clear is the role of sleep and dreams. We know that there is tremendous activity in the brain and nervous system during various states of sleep whereby further neural "pruning" and strengthening occurs, but the "when, where, and why" of it all is still somewhat sketchy.

 

I like you're idea about "noise." I have (SO MANY TIMES) had the answer to a monster problem or issue present itself when my mind was (seemingly) no where near that topic of thought. Like while grocery shopping or mowing the lawn and suddenly realizing which bits of code can be used to fix some output or how to relate two databases in a simple way that evaded me all week sitting at my desk during work... that sort of thing.

 

All in all, it's an exciting field of research. You might also look into the "pleasure" response to this "aha" moment. Obviously, evolution has favored reinforcement of our eureka moments, because DAMN it feels good to find these solutions after hours of effort and toil. :D

 

All the best.

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The left hemisphere is more rational and the right is more spatial. The spatial nature of the right hemiphere makes it better at putting together an integration of data and logic. When the synthesis is complete, the 3-D memory pops a 2-D data output, into the left hemisphere, for Eureka.

 

Based on my own self observation, the ego or conscious mind goes through its rational synthesis. It starts to get frustrated. I tend to feel a type of mini-down feeling. This appears to be the right side sort of limiting control of the ego with this lower energy, since the right side has the data it needs and doesn't need any more help. Once the right side finishes, there is an up feeling, i.e., Eureka, as the output appears in the left hemisphere for conscious awareness. It is almost like a bi-polar affect but connected to rational analysis, spatial synthesis, and then output.

 

When the down side of the analysis bi-polar lasts longer than normal, usually a brand new idea pops into my head, that I have not thought of before. Often it is not even be part of where I thought I was heading. It is often something on the back burner that is suddenly fully baked. I have learned to observed where on, which duration, bi-polar cycle I am, so I can tell when something is almost ready to pop into conscious awareness.

 

I like to jump around the forums, because I try to get a lot of pies baking at the same time. As the beeper goes off, I take one of the pies out of the oven, to share. At times, the pie is too hot or should have cooled with a little more rational forethough. But sometimes, if another pie is ready to peep, I often need to just get it out, to have time for the next. Using the right side of the brain to bake pies is a skill that can be learned.

 

The way my ideas have evolved is that as pies come out of the oven, I try to think about them at the rational level, i.e., left hemisphere, this becomes additional data input for the right hemisphere. I also try to add what other says and as well as various criticisms to the data blend. Then I put this into the oven to bake, while I tend to another cooked pie. Often I drop topics because the pie pan is already full and needs to cook. I'll be glad when the oven finally stops and reaches some steady state. It gets quite tiring being a one man bakery but it is also a lot of fun discovering.

 

The area I would like to focus my skill is the hydrogen model of life. The problem I am facing is I can't get any good outside data input. There is only a resistant cynicsm that prevents the synthesis from evolving. I can sort of understand that a rational model of the life is too advanced. While it is hard for me to go backwards to observational empiricism. The right side works with a forward integration and I can't seem to change that.

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Pioneer, please, I was very specific about the area of interest...this is not your arena for spouting your unsubstantiated ideas.

 

Like I've said before Pioneer/Sunspot...if you want to present an argument, keep it simple, follow the three C's and don't hijack a thread, and stick to the topic !

 

I've wasted my time, explaining to you, yet again, to consider the topics at hand. Please give constructive criticism, or additions to the topic, not a load of subjective ramblings.

 

I had something to add, but now I've forgotten my point...pffft

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The left hemisphere is more rational and the right is more spatial. The spatial nature of the right hemiphere makes it better at putting together an integration of data and logic. When the synthesis is complete, the 3-D memory pops a 2-D data output, into the left hemisphere, for Eureka.

 

Based on my own self observation, the ego or conscious mind goes through its rational synthesis. It starts to get frustrated. I tend to feel a type of mini-down feeling. This appears to be the right side sort of limiting control of the ego with this lower energy, since the right side has the data it needs and doesn't need any more help. Once the right side finishes, there is an up feeling, i.e., Eureka, as the output appears in the left hemisphere for conscious awareness. It is almost like a bi-polar affect but connected to rational analysis, spatial synthesis, and then output.

 

When the down side of the analysis bi-polar lasts longer than normal, usually a brand new idea pops into my head, that I have not thought of before. Often it is not even be part of where I thought I was heading. It is often something on the back burner that is suddenly fully baked. I have learned to observed where on, which duration, bi-polar cycle I am, so I can tell when something is almost ready to pop into conscious awareness.

 

I like to jump around the forums, because I try to get a lot of pies baking at the same time. As the beeper goes off, I take one of the pies out of the oven, to share. At times, the pie is too hot or should have cooled with a little more rational forethough. But sometimes, if another pie is ready to peep, I often need to just get it out, to have time for the next. Using the right side of the brain to bake pies is a skill that can be learned.

 

The way my ideas have evolved is that as pies come out of the oven, I try to think about them at the rational level, i.e., left hemisphere, this becomes additional data input for the right hemisphere. I also try to add what other says and as well as various criticisms to the data blend. Then I put this into the oven to bake, while I tend to another cooked pie. Often I drop topics because the pie pan is already full and needs to cook. I'll be glad when the oven finally stops and reaches some steady state. It gets quite tiring being a one man bakery but it is also a lot of fun discovering.

 

The area I would like to focus my skill is the hydrogen model of life. The problem I am facing is I can't get any good outside data input. There is only a resistant cynicsm that prevents the synthesis from evolving. I can sort of understand that a rational model of the life is too advanced. While it is hard for me to go backwards to observational empiricism. The right side works with a forward integration and I can't seem to change that.

WTF do pies have to do with the OP?
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  • 1 month later...

I think you are searching something like Anette Karmiloff-Smith's cognitive theory of "representational redescription". It describes the emergence of a new level of explanation, when pieces of old explanations (and unexplained perceptions) are used to form a complete new explanation.

 

http://www.bbsonline.org/documents/a/00/00/05/33/bbs00000533-00/bbs.karmsmith.html

 

The process is discussed in the chapter 9.

 

Googling "representational redescription" opens thousands of links concerning the subject.

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Maybe it's because when you are thinking about a particular problem, and exploring different details of said problem, something gets cued in long-term memory. When this 'missing piece' rises to your working memory, you have a 'eureka moment.

also interesting about fMri...great research being done, but as an experimental method, one of it's biggest limitations is trying to simulate exactly these kinds of spontaneous phenomena.

 

i guess I'm agreeing with Rilx there...

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  • 8 months later...

An interesting post over at the Frontal Cortex today:

 

 

 

http://scienceblogs.com/cortex/2008/07/the_neuroscience_of_insight.php

 

There is something inherently mysterious about moments of insight. Wag Dodge, for instance, could never explain where his idea for the escape fire came from. ("It just seemed the logical thing to do" was all he could muster.) His improbable survival has become one of those legendary stories of insight, like Archimedes shouting "Eureka!" ... <more at the link>

 

 

Some interesting papers linked in the post, too.

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An interesting post over at the Frontal Cortex today:

 

 

 

http://scienceblogs.com/cortex/2008/07/the_neuroscience_of_insight.php

 

There is something inherently mysterious about moments of insight. Wag Dodge, for instance, could never explain where his idea for the escape fire came from. ("It just seemed the logical thing to do" was all he could muster.) His improbable survival has become one of those legendary stories of insight, like Archimedes shouting "Eureka!" ... <more at the link>

 

 

Some interesting papers linked in the post, too.

 

Eh. I figured out his "legendary insight" as soon as I read grassfire+strong wind. Seriously, have people never heard of fighting fire with fire? Especially firemen?

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  • 5 weeks later...

The Eureka Moment is rather like trying to remember something that "you know that you know", but you can't find it in your memory. Much of brain activity goes on outside of our conscious attention. When we direct and "push" our thinking is the direction that we believe the answer lies we make prevent the appropriate brain state from emerging. If we just put in the information that we know and then let the brain do its own natural interactive pattern matching, it will tend to gravitate to the point where "awareness" is. In terms of a holographic memory approach (which my research favors), The various interference patterns created by incoming sensory information, our present state of consciousness, and the additional interference patterns which get triggered when words, ideas, visualizations, etc. (which are contained in those somewhat random patterns) will sync and converge. The electromagnetic energy patterns (or interference patterns) will seek to achieve energy conservation, by joining and syncing with other similar patterns rather than fighting them (which we do when we think we know where we are going and are in fact going in the wrong mental direction). This just adds to the general noise in the brain. "Letting go" basically allows the brain to operate by itself and it can find what it needs.

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