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Eureka Factor: AHA Moments, Creative Insight and the Brain

by John Kounios and Mark Beeman, 2015

· Book Review

Many writers have assessed the reality of the moment when we think we’re discovered something new… the ‘eureka’ factor. Some have concluded that this creative aha moment is a myth and that these moments come at the end of a lot of effort, research and hard slog.

What these neuroscientists have added to this discussion is what happens in the brain when we analytically problem solve verses what happens when we have a creative insight. They have revealed that different areas of the brain light up based on scanners such as the fMRI that give us the ability to observe the brain as it works.

Kounios and Beeman describe, “Our goal is to explain what insights are, how they arise, and what the scientific research says about how to have more of them.” Daydreaming, musing, fantasizing and sleeping all prime the pump. They discuss how various conditions affect the likelihood of your having an insight, when insight is helpful and when deliberate methodical thought is better suited to a task, what the relationship is between insight and intuition, and how the brain’s right hemisphere contributes to creative thought.

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