The spark of epiphanies: Q&A with John Kounios

TED Blog

Cognitive neuroscientist John Kounios was curious: what happens in the brain when someone has a great idea? And so the Drexel University psychology professor designed an experiment to measure subjects’ brain activity as they solved problems. In a talk given at TED@New York — one of 14 events that was part of the 2013 Talent Search — Kounios outlines what is required for lightbulb-over-the-head moments.

You just talked about this wonderful story of a fireman and the neuroscience of the a-ha moment. What is it about this idea that makes you want to spread it to the world?

The world faces a lot of problems. Certain kinds of problems can be solved in a linear, step-by-step, incremental way. We can solve those kinds of problems using procedures that we already know. But when you’re encountering a novel problem — a very complex problem — you need to make a leap…

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