Have you ever wondered why inspiration zaps your brain at certain times? Is it chance? Some scientists think not.
In a 2008 New Yorker article "The Eureka Hunt," Jonah Lehrer describes brain research that seems to explain the why of when insight and inspiration can strike.
"The insight process, as sketched by scientists Jung-Beeman and Kounis, is a delicate balancing act. At first, the brain lavishes the scarce resource of attention on a single problem. But once the brain is sufficiently focused, the cortex needs to relax in order to seek out the more remote association in the right hemisphere, which will provide the insight."
When is this most likely to happen?
"The relaxation phase is crucial. That why so many insights happen during warm showers. Another ideal moment for insights, according to the scientists, is the early morning, right after we wake up. The drowsy brain is unwound and disorganized, open to all sorts of unconventional ideas. The right hemisphere is also unusually active. The problem with the morning, though, is that we're always so rushed and never give ourselves a chance to think. If we're stuck on a difficult problem, it's better to set the alarm clock a few minutes early so that we have time to lie in bed and ruminate. We do some of our best thinking when we're still half asleep."
I have one friend who has always said her best "writing thinking" happens in the shower and I often have new ideas when I wake in the morning. Now we know why.
Do you have "best times" for inspiration?