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The Eureka Factor: Aha Moments, Creative Insight, and the Brain

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  247 ratings  ·  39 reviews
The cognitive neuroscientists who discovered how the brain has aha moments—sudden creative insights—explain how they happen, when we need them, and how we can have more of them to enrich our lives and empower personal and professional success.
Eureka or aha moments are sudden realizations that expand our understanding of the world and ourselves, conferring both personal g
ebook, 288 pages
Published April 14th 2015 by Random House (first published March 6th 2014)
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Average rating 3.84  · 
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Alice  Heiserman
Oct 15, 2015 rated it liked it
I have had a long interest in creativity since writing about it for my masters' thesis. This book took a long time to provide two ending chapters that offer some guidance in ways we can enhance our creativity. The authors seem like analytical types writing about the opposite--intuition or creativity through intuition. Basically they contend that some problems may be solved by taking a look at the pieces of the problem rather than through the aha moment but thinking about and interacting with unu ...more
Jan 21, 2017 rated it liked it
My review is really biased because I teach Experimental Cognition, so almost all of the material was familiar to me. I just didn't find the book to flow well and it felt like a cognition textbook. I wouldn't require it for my students (and they read Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow). Others may find it interesting though! A lot of great work highlighted in this book. ...more
Jul 06, 2015 rated it liked it
Mechanics behind how 'insight' is generated by our brain. Helpful for people digging into 'innovation' (like me), way too much info for most others. It certainly help me better understand how I was doing it. Key take aways are
- Relaxation is critical to finding insight
- Push til you solve the problem OR hit the wall BEFORE relaxing
- Focus requires limited sensory input
- But not an efficient way to solve problems that have well established pattern
- Once insight is gained, now need pressure
Alex Devero
Everyone has varying tendencies towards eureka moments. The great thing is, you don’t have to be an ancient Greek thinker to enjoy more of them. Small changes in your motivation or environment can help even the most analytical of us to unleash our creativity and experience more creative insights. Learn about what you can do to train yourself to have more of these eureka moments.
Adrian Curtin
Oct 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Probably everyone has experienced the thrill of a sudden and dramatic change in thought which connects ideas in a moment. This moment of insight is not only exciting and somewhat addicting, but also rarely comes when called (the author's here compare it to a cat, which is not a poor analogy). Dr. Kunious and Beeman's book attempts to break apart the nature of insightful thinking and the ways in which it differs from analytical thought processes. Written from the perspective of two neuroscientist ...more
Nathan Dowell
Aug 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is easily one of the best books I read this summer. Kounious and Beeman fill the book with insightful work on the nature of creative insight, with much space dedicated to the neuroscience and psychology of the phenomenon. They discuss a wide range of applications, from science to philosophy to literature and poetry to business to many other fields. Because of this, having insights - making your environment and mind more conducive to them - becomes a worthwhile goal. This is especially the c ...more
Vanessa Princessa
I read this book thanks to Blinkist.

The key message in this book:

Everyone has varying tendencies towards eureka moments. The great thing is, you don’t have to be an ancient Greek thinker to enjoy more of them. Small changes in your motivation or environment can help even the most analytical of us to unleash our creativity and experience more creative insights.

Actionable advice:

Nap on it.

The next time a conundrum has you flummoxed, take a nap. This will allow your unconscious to work on it. When
Anthony D’Apolito III
Mar 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: self-help, science
As I delve into deep work and my creative process, there is no book that could’ve served me better.

The Eureka Factor gives the full buffet. It not only talks about the psychology behind creative insight, but it also explains how to create more it. This book is extremely full circle with every chapter playing off of each other extremely well.

And as always, the examples given with the stories told to explain creative insight and psychology were super fascinating.

Here are two things that caught my
Lee McKerracher
Jan 21, 2021 rated it liked it
This book presents very interesting information about how the brain has an 'aha' moment - so this is when you suddenly get an insight into a problem, as opposed to analytically thinking through your various options on how to solve the problem.

The authors use some entertaining examples of such aha moments involving those with a high profile such as Paul McCartney, members of the Disney Pixar team and even Christopher Colombus.

It is an entertaining read but probably only for those who are really i
Jun 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: cogsci
Kounios and Beeman give a nice and broad overview over insight research, covered many interesting approaches to study insights and used many anecdotes that I found enjoyable to read.

Some things I missed:
- they rarely mentioned effect sizes of studies and numbers of participants, often the effects are "significant"
- they didn't mention the replication crisis and only rarely mentioned how reliable they think the studies they mentioned are (for example it seemed to me like some of the studies on p
Jacob Bailey
Jul 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book opened up a lot of valuable information that pertained to my life but can be used by anybody to spark creative thoughts. The only problem I have with the book is that the information all seems to be at the cutting edge of research and so it feels as if there is a huge world of information left to be discovered and it gives the book trouble tying everything together. Definitely an important part of your mind that must be taken into account. Worth reading!
David Ellis
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book. It really is fascinating to read about how we can all do more to unlock the insight potential in our brains. I found the use of modern examples extremely relatable that kept me thoroughly engrossed all the way throughout the book. This books is also such a joy to read as well, very well written and summarises all the lessons learned throughout succinctly at the end. A must for creative types who want to keep the ideas flowing!
Craig Rickett
Aug 16, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: psychology
I love those moments when the answer just appears, don't you? So, of course, I am going to be interested in where and how those moments originate in the mind, and why I don't have a whole hat full of them. Part of the "aha" reinforcement for me -- and it was something I already knew from experience and research -- was the necessity for immersion in the problem, interspersed with naps or the occasional warm bath. ...more
Tonya Cornileus
Apr 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
I am writing a book about the role Aha moments plays in self-discovery, consciousness and life journey. This book was helpful to me to explain what Aha moments are and how they help people discover more about themselves and the world around us. It was very helpful to have both the scientific explanations and the practical examples.
Dec 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
It is a good scientific book. It is not a self help book and I liked it for this. The text is sometimes boring though.
Very readable, research-based book on the neuroscience of creative insight. So many ways to understand and incorporate this information into work/play/learn.
David Meyer
Sep 30, 2018 rated it liked it
A decent look at the most recent science regarding insights. I thought the information could've been presented in more interesting ways at times, but it was a decent read. ...more
Andy Gruenbaum
Oct 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Probably a difficult topic to write about. The book convinced me they do happen, but it didn't tell me how to have my own. Things to think about. ...more
Jul 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Eureka Factor is a scientific look at how human beings realize insightful solutions that seem to come out of nowhere, and looks at a lot of the mythology around genius, brilliance, and sudden ideas.

This book is all about the dichotomy between analytical and insightful problem solving. To use insightful problem-solving, you should put yourself in scenarios where you have psychological "breadth" and "distance". This means you can free associate, think about places / things that are literally p
What I loved about this book is that the topic of creativity, insight, and problem solving was examined at a biological level through cognitive sciences. So this wasn't a "how-to" book in the usual sense, nor was it a set of tricks from some business guru. Instead it was a scientific look at the brain and how it works. I found this book completely fascinating, and also approachable & easy to read even for a non-scientist. Yes, there are some practical tips for encouraging insightful thinking int ...more
Feb 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is exactly what I hoped for -- a scientifically grounded look at the creative process and particularly how people arrive at incredible insights. No nonsense about muses or made-up exercises. Instead it goes systematically through different aspects of the insight process, case studies from real creatives, explanations of their findings from scientific studies, and how you can apply those findings to your own life.
Dharmesh Mehta
Jun 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Remember Archimedes and his famous 'Eureka' moment? That 'Aha' moment is what this book is about: stories from Paul McCartney, Barbara McClintock, Christopher Columbus and many others who were benefited by their Eureka moments. Although a subject of cognitive psychology and neuroscience, the authors manage to address a wider audience. Sans jargon, this book tells you why such a moment is in your own reach. Brisk tempo, engaging style and insightful. ...more
Don  Kent
Jun 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Although it might seem to be a literary pun, this is a very thought provoking book. Its discussions of the clash between our analytical and insightful brain functions are changing. If one would like to understand why some people are creative and insightful while others merely struggle to be so, this book is a good place to start. His description of schizotypical behavior was especially interesting.
Mark Valentine
Jan 30, 2016 rated it liked it
As a general summary of recent research on creativity, I thought this beneficial. More valuable however was the second half in which the authors suggest methods and means to enhance the creative process. Good overall, but its repetitiveness (for a book on creativity) should have been managed better.
Elizabeth Mirr Wysocki
This was a tough read for me; I'm not sure if it was the lackadaisical summertime attitude I've sported or the research heavy language I waded through.
Overall, I found this very interesting and in the end I felt the book did give me insight on how to help your brain have and develop those "aha moments".
May 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Infact the Flow, Incognito and this book together explore different aspects of mind and brain and were a good string to read together this month.The power of habit was more related to Jim Collins' books in my opinion ...more
Feb 08, 2016 rated it did not like it
Totally not impressed. All the scientific studies are interesting but nothing practical for use in this book. I understand that if you are stumped, get up and take a break then come back to the problem.
Kathy Cowie
My review will appear in the November-December issue of Global Business and Organizational Excellence.
Kirk Bullough
Jun 30, 2015 rated it liked it
This book is a very interesting study about how inspiration works. Also had great suggestions for cultivating your own aha moments.
Michael Nalbone
Aug 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
Pine, Crab, Sauce Find the common word with all three. Then you will want to read this book.
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