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Looking for insight? Skip the coffee

Derek

It hurts – it feels like giving up. You’re stuck on a problem and do the last thing that makes sense – stop thinking about it. And the minute you forgot about the problem the solution comes into focus. Sometimes it’s a shower, for others it’s a long walk or playing a video game.

The Eureka Hunt – Why do good ideas come to us when they do?, an article by Jonah Lehrer published in the the July 28th issue of the New Yorker, covered scientific research on moments of insight. There were a couple nuggets on provoking insights:

Simmer down the focus.

Avoid things that help you focus (like caffeine).

If you’re in an environment that forces you to produce and produce, and you feel very stressed, then you’re not going to have any insights…Concentration, it seems, comes with the hidden cost of diminished creativity.

John Kounious, Cognitive Neuroscientist, Drexel University

Set the alarm clock a few minutes early

The drowsy brain is unwound and disorganized, open to all sorts of unconvential ideas. The right hemisphere is unusally active.

Get in a good mood

Jung-Beeman’s latest paper investigates why people who are in a good mood are so much better at solving insight puzzels (On average, they solve nearly twenty per cent more C.R.A. problems.)

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