Monday, July 28, 2008
Intuition, Inspiration, the Muse--Whatever
All of us want more of those brilliant ideas that lead to interesting new projects, yes? But how to get them.
The July 28 issue of The New Yorker has in interesting article on this topic. Using brain imaging technology, scientists now think that these flashes of insight occur in an area of the right hemisphere of the brain called the anterior superior temporal gyrus (aSTG). I'm simplifying, because before the insight, other areas of the brain try to gather data, shut out sensory input which can interfere, and search frantically for answers to the problem, and then suddenly, the insight happens, shown by a burst of electricity in the aSTG. Then somehow the brain reorders information, and we can never go back to seeing things the way we did before.
Apparently insight is more apt to occur when we are relaxed, after the necessary information has been gathered. This is why many people get their best ideas in the shower or early in the morning when they're half awake, or in my case, as I'm falling asleep.
I'm not sure how this information helps when you're trying to think of solutions except to reinforce what we know already: things like come back to the problem later, sleep on it, etc. (A glass of wine might help, or a cookie, although the scientists didn't mention that.) Fascinating though, isn't it? Now to wait for a moment of intuition...