טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
Ph.D Thesis
Ph.D StudentRosen Amit
SubjectDifferences between Incremental and Insight Problems
Solving: Unaware Hints, Restructuring and EEG
Measures
DepartmentDepartment of Education in Science and Technology
Supervisor Professor Miriam Reiner
Full Thesis textFull thesis text - English Version


Abstract

Insight is a manner of problem solving in which the solution happens suddenly after unique characteristic stages as "reconstuction", distinguished from the incremental solution, in which the the solution is constructed one step at a time. Studies have shown that unaware stimulation may affect high levels of thought and behavior. We suggested that unaware hints might affect problem solver in: 1. The duration required to achieve a solution, 2. The probability of insight solutions . We assumed that an unaware hint which emphasizes the invariant factors of the problem might serve as a primer for the reconstrucion stage, which is a crucial stage before getting to the solution itself through insight. Thus, this study evolved in two phases. The first is behavioral, and focuses on the role of reconstruction processes induced by unaware hints in insight. The second focuses on the neural activations correlated with reconstruction in insight.

Methods: we tested 45 participants on  the 10 coin puzzle, which is a spatial logical problem, that could be solved incrementally or by insight. We ran the study in two phases, behavioral and neural. In the first phase,  the behavioral phase, 17 participants were exposed for a short duration to a masked visual hint. The participants were unaware of the hint. Another 16 participants solved without being exposed to the hint. In the second phase electroencephalogram signals were recorded from 12 participants while they were solving the puzzle. Participants reported whether the process was incremental or by sudden insight.

Results: in phase A the hint shortened the solution time; moreover, the hint raised the solution rate of people who solved through insight. In phase B we found significant differences between insight and incremental solvers in the Gamma and Beta 2 bands in frontal areas and in the alpha band in right temporal areas.

Conclusions: Integrating the results of both phases, suggests that processing of the hint is done in-spite of the participants being unware of it. This processing seems to have a major effect on the duration needed for restructuring - the process is expedited, leading to an earlier solution of insight solvers compared to incremental and compared to insights solvers without a hint. The hint might also direct the participant to an insight solution over the incremental solution. We assume that the unaware hint served as a primer for the reconstrucion stage which is crucial for insight. The restructuring process requires exclusive brain areas and is correlated with specific brain processes - elevated gamma and beta bands in right frontal areas correlated with insight, compared to reduced gamma and beta correlated with incremental problem solving, suggesting a gamma-beta mechanism in creative problem solving via insight. The right-frontal gamma indicates a process of restructuring which leads to an insight solution, in spatial problems, further suggesting a universal role of gamma in restructuring. It further suggests non symmetrical mechanisms correlated with insight/incremental solutions, involves functional networks that are not on both hemispheres.