Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

A-ha! The neural mechanisms of insight

Date:
March 10, 2011
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
Although it is quite common for a brief, unique experience to become part of our long-term memory, the underlying brain mechanisms associated with this type of learning are not well understood. Now, a new brain-imaging study looks at the neural activity associated with a specific type of rapid learning, insight.

Although it is quite common for a brief, unique experience to become part of our long-term memory, the underlying brain mechanisms associated with this type of learning are not well understood. Now, a new brain-imaging study looks at the neural activity associated with a specific type of rapid learning, insight. The research, published in the March 10 issue of the journal Neuron, reveals specific brain activity that occurs during an "A-ha!" moment that may help encode the new information in long-term memory.

"In daily life, information that results from moments of insight is, almost by definition, incorporated in long-term memory: once we have realized a new way to solve a problem, or to perform a task better and faster, we are not likely to forget that insight easily," explains senior study author, Dr. Nava Rubin, from the Center for Neural Science at New York University. "We were interested in determining the neural basis of this long-lasting nature of insight."

Dr. Rubin, along with collaborators Rachel Ludmer and Dr. Yadin Dudai, designed a model system for studying memory formation associated with perceptual insight. Perceptual insight is where the sudden realization of a solution to a visual puzzle is triggered by an external cue. Study participants viewed a real-world image that had been degraded almost beyond recognition. After a few moments the original image was revealed, transforming the previously meaningless arrangement of ink blots to a coherent scene (the "A-ha!"). Memory was tested a week later when participants were shown the degraded image again and asked to recall detailed perceptual information about the original image. Brain imaging allowed the researchers to capture the neural activity associated with the original moment of insight and relate it to the subsequent fate of the image in memory.

During moments of insight, there was significant activity in the amygdala, a brain structure best known for its role in emotional learning. The researchers discovered that higher activity in the amygdala during the moment of insight predicted more successful performance in the memory task a week later, even though the images in and of themselves were not emotional at all. "We propose that the amygdala plays an important role in signaling to different cortical regions that an internal event of significant neural reorganization has occurred," concludes Dr. Rubin. "Our findings extend the known roles of the amygdala in memory to include promoting of long-term memory of the sudden reorganization of internal representations."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Rachel Ludmer, Yadin Dudai, Nava Rubin. Uncovering Camouflage: Amygdala Activation Predicts Long-Term Memory of Induced Perceptual Insight. Neuron, Volume 69, Issue 5, 1002-1014, 10 March 2011 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2011.02.013

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "A-ha! The neural mechanisms of insight." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110309125145.htm>.
Cell Press. (2011, March 10). A-ha! The neural mechanisms of insight. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110309125145.htm
Cell Press. "A-ha! The neural mechanisms of insight." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110309125145.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Study On Artists' Brain Shows They're 'Structurally Unique'

Study On Artists' Brain Shows They're 'Structurally Unique'

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The brains of artists aren't really left-brain or right-brain, but rather have extra neural matter in visual and motor control areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) Pushing the limits on style and self-expression is a rite of passage for teens and even younger kids. How far should schools go with their dress codes? The courts have sided with schools in an era when school safety is paramount. (April 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins