J. Jason van Steenburgh*, Jessica I. Fleck, Mark Beeman, John Kounios

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


In the century since the Gestalt psychologists introduced insight as a component process of perception and problem solving, researchers have studied the phenomenological, behavioral, and neural components of insight. Whether and how insight is different from other types of problem solving, such as analysis, has been a topic of considerable interest and some contention. In this chapter we develop a working definition of insight and detail the history of insight research by focusing on questions about the influence of the problem solver's prior knowledge, the origins and significance of representational change, and the roles of impasse and incubation. We also review more recent investigations of the neurological correlates of insight, discuss neurobehavioral states that facilitate or inhibit insightful problem solving, and highlight new methods and techniques that are proving useful in extending our knowledge of insight.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Thinking and Reasoning
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199968718
ISBN (Print)9780199734689
StatePublished - Nov 21 2012


  • Anterior cingulate cortex
  • Fixation
  • Gestalt
  • Hemispheric differences
  • Impasse
  • Knowledge
  • Restructuring
  • Special process
  • Superior temporal gyrus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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