New advances in the neural correlates of insight: A decade in review of the insightful brain

  • Shen W
  • Luo J
  • Liu C
 et al. 
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The first neuroimaging study of real-time brain activity during insight problem solving was conducted almost ten years ago. Many subsequent studies have used high-resolution event-related potentials (ERPs) and event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate the temporal dynamics and neural correlates of insight. Recent results on the neural underpinnings of insight have led researchers to propose a neural framework referred to as the “insightful brain”. This putative framework repre- sents the neural basis of the cognitive and affective processes that are involved in insight. The insightful brain may involve nu- merous brain regions, including the lateral prefrontal cortex, cingulate cortex, hippocampus, superior temporal gyrus, fusiform gyrus, precuneus, cuneus, insula and cerebellum. Functional studies have demonstrated that the lateral prefrontal cortex is respon- sible for mental set shifting and breaking during insight problem solving. The cingulate cortex is involved in the cognitive conflict between new and old ideas and progress monitoring. The hippocampus, superior temporal gyrus and fusiform gyrus form an inte- grated functional network that specializes in the formation of novel and effective associations. The effective transformation of problem representations depends on a non-verbal visuospatial information-processing network that comprises the precuneus and cuneus. The insula reflects cognitive flexibility and the emotional experience that is associated with insight. The cortical control of finger movements relies on the cerebellum.

Author-supplied keywords

  • creative thinking
  • event-related potentials
  • insight problem solving
  • insightful brain
  • neuroimaging

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  • Wang Bing Shen

  • Jing Luo

  • Chang Liu

  • Yuan Yuan

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