Why do we get our best ideas in the shower?
According to John Kounios, a professor of psychology at Drexel University and co-author of “The Eureka Factor: Aha Moments, Creative Insight, and the Brain”, there are two paths the brain can take to solve a problem. There’s analytical path, where we deliberately and methodically work through a problem by trying out different solutions. Then, there’s insight, where a solution seems to pop into our heads out of nowhere, a so-called aha! moment. “It seems disconnected from your ongoing stream of thought,” says Kounios.Kounios has been studying these moments of insight for many years. Recently, thanks to the advances in neuroimaging technology, he and his collaborator Mark Beeman from Northwestern University have been able to see what actually happens in the brain when we have a mental or creative breakthrough. For their experiments, they asked participants to solve a series of verbal puzzles and used EEG and fMRI imaging to examine the brain’s activity.