Scientists claim to have found a vital part of the process by which people come to an ‘aha!’ or ‘eureka’ moment when figuring something. Much of the ‘thinking’ is understood to take part at a sub-conscious level, which clarifies why you can get surprised when you unexpectedly find the answer to a hard question.
In a new study, researchers from New York, Cambridge and Zurich tried to figure out how and when this kind of thought process occurs. Their research findings claimed that people become aware of having decided when the amount of evidence in the brain attains a specific level and jumps from the sub-conscious to the conscious mind.
Dr. Michael Shadlen of Columbia University said that most of the thoughts revolving in our brains occur below the radar of conscious awareness, implying that even though our brain is processing them, we are not aware. They conducted the study through asking volunteers to look at a computer screen showing several dots moving about as if they were grains of sand being blown by the wind. The five test subjects had to decide whether the dots were generally moving to the left or right. They then had to move the hand of a clock back to the time when they thought they had made their decision. This is a mathematical trick to illustrate that the speed and accuracy of the decisions was tied together by the same brain function.