Insight tied up with reward

Scientists have discovered that the electrical activity of the cortex of the brain during insight on some frequencies higher than the analytical solution of the same problem. In addition, this difference is greater in people whose sensitivity to reward above. In work published in the journal NeuroImage, the authors presumed that the light activates the reward system and causes a feeling of satisfaction.

Insight, or an Epiphany — a sudden understanding of the solution of the problem, which is not derived from a consistent logical reasoning. Not all scientists agree that such a phenomenon exists, but some researchers have isolated a number of features that distinguish insight from analytical thinking. For example, after insight people experience the joy, surprise and relief. There is an assumptionthat the feeling of pleasure provides the reward system of our brain, evolutionary, this mechanism could be to stimulate creative thinking. This effect may explain man’s passion for all sorts of puzzles, detective stories and science activities.

Jandek On (Yongtaek Oh) from Drexel University and his colleagues used electroencephalography (EEG) study tested three hypotheses. They suggested that the nature of neural activity when insight will be different from analytical thinking. Second, the researchers tested whether stimulation of the brain at the moment of insight with the activation of reward systems. The last hypothesis was that people who are sensitive to the promotion, will be more inclined to insight, and this will be reflected in the EEG.

The study involved 30 people. The volunteers had to decipher anagrams. Once you have managed to find the answer, they pressed the button and called his option. Then participants chose one of three options: the solution dawned on them suddenly or as the result of logical reasoning, or they find it difficult to answer. After the volunteers were finished solving anagrams (there were 185), they filled two of the questionnaire: for the assessment of their sensitivity to reward and mood.

Correlation between sensitivity to reward and the preferred solution type of problem (insight or analytic) was negligible. The volunteers, who after solving the anagrams was in a good mood, in a greater number of problems occurred insight than those whose mood was closer to poor (p < 0.05).

The researchers compared the bursts of electrical activity of different frequencies at individual electrodes between solutions with insight or analysis. In interval of one second before the button click has registered several such bursts, which were much more powerful in the insight than logical reasoning. For 500 milliseconds before the button is pressed (a signal that the solution is ready) in the left inferior temporal gyrus appeared related to the insight activation in the gamma frequency (30 to 37 Hz). On the localization of the excitation (the prefrontal cortex), the frequency and time of occurrence, the authors suggested that it corresponds to the moment when the decision arises in human consciousness — and about 500 milliseconds is required to start the motor response.

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