How to Problem-solve with Intuition (it delivers deeper insights than logic)

How to Problem-solve with Intuition (it delivers deeper insights than logic)

The written content of the post was authored by best-selling author and neuroscience expert, Mark Robert Waldman. It is posted with his permission.

Intuition is a form of cognitive awareness that is generated, in part, by unique spindle neurons (or von Economo neurons) found in the anterior cingulate and insula, those parts of your brain that are stimulated by self-reflection, mindfulness, and meditation.

Research shows that you can ask your intuition – as though it were a separate “person” in your mind – for advice, and if you listen closely, you’ll sense a whisper of wisdom (like the voice of an inner teacher) that will give you a deeper level of insight than what you would normally access when you use the logic and reason of everyday consciousness that is processed in your prefrontal cortex.

Neuro-ExerciseThink about a current problem. Write down a possible solution. Now ask your intuition for another solution, and write it down. Often this information has more depth. Before you take action, use both voices – logic and intuition – to resolve problems and plan goal-oriented strategies.

The following study is an example of the growing research showing that intuition is an essential non-verbal decision-making process using some of the most underdeveloped parts of our brain (insula, anterior cingulate, etc). 

Neuroimage. 2007 Oct 15;38(1):228-38. 
Neural processes underlying intuitive coherence judgments as revealed by fMRI on a semantic judgment task.
Ilg R1, Vogeley K, Goschke T, Bolte A, Shah JN, Pöppel E, Fink GR.


Daily-life decisions and judgments are often made "intuitively", i.e., without an explicit explanation or verbal justification. We conceive of intuition as the capacity for an effortless evaluation of complex situations on the basis of information being activated, but at the moment of decision not being consciously retrieved. Little is known about which neural processes mediate intuitive judgments and whether these are distinct from those neural processes underlying explicit judgments. Employing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) we show that intuitive compared to explicit judgments in a semantic coherence judgment task are associated with increased neural activity in heteromodal association areas in bilateral inferior parietal and right superior temporal cortex. These results indicate that intuitive coherence judgments activate neural systems that are involved in the integration of remote associates into a coherent representation and, thus, support the assumption that intuitive judgments are based on an activation of widespread semantic networks sparing a conscious representation.

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