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The Eureka Moment and Creative Problem Solving in the Brain

Dr. Mark Beeman, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience and former Chair of Psychology at Northwestern University, will speak on the topic, The Eureka Moment and Creative Problem Solving in the Brain.  He will discuss two decades worth of studies investigating the neural underpinnings of Aha! or Eureka! moments -- that is, the antecedents, mechanisms, and consequences of solving problems with sudden insight.  Specifically, what are the brain and attention states that are most conducive to solving with sudden insight?  What are the direct and indirect cognitive processes engaged at the moment of solving?  What processes and behaviors might increase these breakthroughs, and how might they affect other behaviors, such as memory for problems and solutions.  Most recently, we’ve demonstrated a way to manipulate memory processes during sleep that can potentially improve solving of problems people failed to solve the night before.

Mark Beeman in his work at the Creative Brain Lab studies the brain bases of sudden insight (Aha!), creative cognition and problem solving, how mood affects attention and cognition, and how the right and left sides of the brain differ in function.  His research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, John Templeton Foundation, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and the Office of Naval Research.  Some of his work on insight and creative problem solving was covered in a 2015 book co-authored with John Kounios: The Eureka Factor: Aha Moments, Creative Insight, and the Brain.  Dr. Beeman received his Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from the University of Oregon.