The Eureka Hunt

This stimulating New Yorker essay (right now gated, but worth buying the issue for) focuses on where creative moments come from.  Excerpt:

Many stimulants, like caffeine, Adderall, and Ritalin, are taken to increase focus — one recent poll found that nearly twenty percent of scientists and researchers regularly took prescription drugs to "enhance concentration" — but, accordingly to Jung-Beeman and Kounios, drugs may actually make insights less likely, by sharpening the spotlight of attention and discouraging mental rambles.  Concentration, it seems, comes with the hidden cost of diminished creativity.  "There’s a good reason Google puts Ping-Pong tables in their headquarters," Kounios said.  "If you want to encourage insights, then you’ve got to also encourage people to relax."  Jung-Beeman’s latest paper investigates why people who are in a good mood are so much better at solving insight puzzles.  (On average, they solve nearly twenty percent more C.R.A. problems.)


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