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In Fact, Mark Zuckerberg, 'Eureka Moments' Do Exist

By Lauren Ingeno

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June 5, 2017

In his commencement address at Harvard University this week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told graduates, “the idea of a single eureka moment is a dangerous lie.”

Contrary to what “movies and pop culture” portray, he continued, eureka moments “make us feel inadequate, because we feel like we haven’t had ours yet. And it prevents people with seeds of good ideas from ever getting started in the first place.”

Not so fast, Zuckerberg. According to research from Drexel University cognitive neuroscientist John Kounios, PhD, those “eureka moments” are real. And, when combined with analytical thinking, they can spur creative breakthroughs.

In his book, “The Eureka Factor: Aha Moments, Creative Insight and the Brain,” Kounios and his colleague Mark Beeman (of Northwestern University) describe their research on what psychologists call “moments of insight” — when a new idea or perspective suddenly pops into your mind, seemingly out of nowhere. They also document many great eureka moments of famous figures.

“Our neuroimaging research reveals bursts of high-frequency activity in the brain’s right hemisphere that occur right after visual-processing areas of the brain dim to make a person briefly less aware of his or her environment. These ‘eurekas’ not only provide creative ideas or solutions to problems, but also inspire and motivate a person to elaborate and implement them,” said Kounios, a professor of psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Using EEG tests to measure brain activity, Kounios has shown that creativity is about a brain state — and there are actually things you can do to “get into” this state, making it more likely that you will have an “aha” moment.

Read more at the Drexel News Blog