How to investigate insight: a proposal

Methods. 2007 May;42(1):49-57. doi: 10.1016/j.ymeth.2006.12.004.


One of the most challenging issues in the field of creativity is finding an approach conducent to understanding the cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying insight. We propose investigating the process of insight within the context of implicit learning paradigms. The training tasks in implicit learning paradigms are regularly constructed and, although participants are not informed about the existence of such a regularity, some of them gain insight into this regular pattern during training. This process of spontaneously arising explicit knowledge during an incidental learning situation strongly resembles the process of finding the solution for an insight problem. The main advantage of these incidental learning situations is the opportunity to investigate the process of insight on a trial-by-trial basis. This would be of particularly interest to researchers who want to relate the process of insight to neural activity. We begin with a description of our main findings concerning the emergence of explicit knowledge in implicit learning and continue with detailed descriptions of our implicit learning paradigm and data-analytic strategies.

MeSH terms

  • Awareness
  • Cognition
  • Cognitive Science / methods*
  • Creativity*
  • Humans
  • Learning
  • Problem Solving