The Aha! Moment: The cognitive neuroscience of insight

John Kounios*, Mark Beeman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

190 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A sudden comprehension that solves a problem, reinterprets a situation, explains a joke, or resolves an ambiguous percept is called an insight (i.e., the "Aha! moment"). Psychologists have studied insight using behavioral methods for nearly a century. Recently, the tools of cognitive neuroscience have been applied to this phenomenon. A series of studies have used electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study the neural correlates of the "Aha! moment" and its antecedents. Although the experience of insight is sudden and can seem disconnected from the immediately preceding thought, these studies show that insight is the culmination of a series of brain states and processes operating at different time scales. Elucidation of these precursors suggests interventional opportunities for the facilitation of insight.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)210-216
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
Volume18
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2009

Fingerprint

Electroencephalography
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Psychology
Brain
Cognitive Neuroscience

Keywords

  • Aha! moment
  • Creativity
  • EEG
  • FMRI
  • Insight
  • Neuroimaging
  • Problem solving

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

Cite this

@article{5d6f400c88b744e4a3ab9405177c95d3,
title = "The Aha! Moment: The cognitive neuroscience of insight",
abstract = "A sudden comprehension that solves a problem, reinterprets a situation, explains a joke, or resolves an ambiguous percept is called an insight (i.e., the {"}Aha! moment{"}). Psychologists have studied insight using behavioral methods for nearly a century. Recently, the tools of cognitive neuroscience have been applied to this phenomenon. A series of studies have used electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study the neural correlates of the {"}Aha! moment{"} and its antecedents. Although the experience of insight is sudden and can seem disconnected from the immediately preceding thought, these studies show that insight is the culmination of a series of brain states and processes operating at different time scales. Elucidation of these precursors suggests interventional opportunities for the facilitation of insight.",
keywords = "Aha! moment, Creativity, EEG, FMRI, Insight, Neuroimaging, Problem solving",
author = "John Kounios and Mark Beeman",
year = "2009",
month = "8",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1111/j.1467-8721.2009.01638.x",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "18",
pages = "210--216",
journal = "Current Directions in Psychological Science",
issn = "0963-7214",
publisher = "SAGE Publications Inc.",
number = "4",

}

The Aha! Moment : The cognitive neuroscience of insight. / Kounios, John; Beeman, Mark.

In: Current Directions in Psychological Science, Vol. 18, No. 4, 01.08.2009, p. 210-216.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - The Aha! Moment

T2 - The cognitive neuroscience of insight

AU - Kounios, John

AU - Beeman, Mark

PY - 2009/8/1

Y1 - 2009/8/1

N2 - A sudden comprehension that solves a problem, reinterprets a situation, explains a joke, or resolves an ambiguous percept is called an insight (i.e., the "Aha! moment"). Psychologists have studied insight using behavioral methods for nearly a century. Recently, the tools of cognitive neuroscience have been applied to this phenomenon. A series of studies have used electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study the neural correlates of the "Aha! moment" and its antecedents. Although the experience of insight is sudden and can seem disconnected from the immediately preceding thought, these studies show that insight is the culmination of a series of brain states and processes operating at different time scales. Elucidation of these precursors suggests interventional opportunities for the facilitation of insight.

AB - A sudden comprehension that solves a problem, reinterprets a situation, explains a joke, or resolves an ambiguous percept is called an insight (i.e., the "Aha! moment"). Psychologists have studied insight using behavioral methods for nearly a century. Recently, the tools of cognitive neuroscience have been applied to this phenomenon. A series of studies have used electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study the neural correlates of the "Aha! moment" and its antecedents. Although the experience of insight is sudden and can seem disconnected from the immediately preceding thought, these studies show that insight is the culmination of a series of brain states and processes operating at different time scales. Elucidation of these precursors suggests interventional opportunities for the facilitation of insight.

KW - Aha! moment

KW - Creativity

KW - EEG

KW - FMRI

KW - Insight

KW - Neuroimaging

KW - Problem solving

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=69949124234&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=69949124234&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1111/j.1467-8721.2009.01638.x

DO - 10.1111/j.1467-8721.2009.01638.x

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:69949124234

VL - 18

SP - 210

EP - 216

JO - Current Directions in Psychological Science

JF - Current Directions in Psychological Science

SN - 0963-7214

IS - 4

ER -