Mind games

Not So Eureka

Madhavankutty Pillai has no specialisations whatsoever. He is among the last of the generalists. And also Open chief of bureau, Mumbai  
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Eight seconds before Archimedes said “Eureka!” and ran naked on the streets of Greece, his brain might already have known the answer. So suggests a new study in which two of the three-member research team are of Indian origin. An insight is believed to occur when a person solves a problem abruptly, without step-by-step reasoning—as in the Eureka or Aha moment. But the study, published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, has found that it might not be so Aha after all. The scientists gave subjects problems which require an insight and monitored their brain waves by EEG. Those who got the answer had an increase in gamma waves one to eight seconds before the big moment. This could mean the brain knows answers before its owner becomes conscious of them. Team member Joydeep Bhattacharya says: “The implications of this range from fostering a conducive environment to ‘creativity’ to some understanding of ‘consciousness’.”