APR 23, 2020 2:22 PM PDT

'Aha' Moments Trigger Orgasmic Brain Signals

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

New research has shown that gaining a new insight, also known as an ‘aha’ moment, induces signaling patterns in the brain linked to high degrees of pleasure. Experienced during orgasm, these signaling patterns are also common when eating tasty food, quenching thirst and using addictive substances.

For the study, researchers from Drexel University recruited 44 participants including 25 men and 19 women. They then used high density electroencephalograms (EEGs) to track the brain activity of the participants as they solved anagram puzzles. In each puzzle, the participants were required to unscramble letters to reveal a hidden word. Each time they had an ‘aha’ moment in managing to unscramble a word, they pressed a button which signaled the EEG to take a snapshot of their brain activity. 

The researchers then asked each participant to fill out a questionnaire to measure their ‘reward sensitivity’. Reward sensitivity, say the researchers, is a basic personality trait that can indicate the extent to which a person is motivated to ‘gain rewards rather than avoid losing them’. 

In the end, the researchers found that those who scored highly on the questionnaire also tended to have powerful ‘aha’ moments as captured by the EEG. In particular, their EEG scans demonstrated an extra spike of high-frequency gamma waves in their reward systems’ orbitofrontal cortex. Meanwhile, people scoring low on the reward sensitivity test did not have such spikes. This means that although they had the same moments of insight, they did not experience them in the same oragasmic way. 

"The fact that some people find insight experiences to be highly pleasurable reinforces the notion that insight can be an intrinsic reward for problem solving and comprehension that makes use of the same reward circuitry in the brain that processes rewards from addictive drugs, sugary foods, or love," write the psychologists behind the research.

John Kounios, one of the study’s lead authors, added, “The fact that evolution has linked the generation of new ideas and perspectives to the human brain's reward system may explain the proliferation of creativity and the advancement of science and culture.” 


Sources: Big Think, Science Direct, EurekAlert

About the Author
  • Science writer with keen interests in technology and behavioral biology. Her current focus is on the interplay between these fields to create meaningful interactions, applications and environments.
You May Also Like
NOV 20, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
Cat Parasite Gives Clues on New Drug Targets for Schizophrenia
NOV 20, 2020
Cat Parasite Gives Clues on New Drug Targets for Schizophrenia
Researchers from the UK and France have discussed a mechanism of action behind the infamous Toxoplasma gondii  ...
DEC 03, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Spit Contains Concussion Clues
DEC 03, 2020
Spit Contains Concussion Clues
Drowsiness, confusion, headaches, and sensitivity to light — it’s sometimes hard for doctors to spot the sig ...
DEC 29, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
What Happens When You Combine Cannabis with Psychedelics?
DEC 29, 2020
What Happens When You Combine Cannabis with Psychedelics?
Despite the growing popularity of cannabis and psychedelics, there is a shortage of research on how the two interact. Be ...
MAR 11, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
Racial Disparities in ADHD Diagnoses
MAR 11, 2021
Racial Disparities in ADHD Diagnoses
Researchers have found significant racial disparities in ADHD diagnoses and treatment: Black, Hispanic, and Asian childr ...
MAR 08, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
A Slowdown in Cells' Protein Construction Drives Huntington's
MAR 08, 2021
A Slowdown in Cells' Protein Construction Drives Huntington's
Huntington's disease begins with symptoms like movement and balance problems, weakness, and behavioral disturbances, and ...
MAR 18, 2021
Neuroscience
Pregnancy Alters the Stress Response in Surprising Ways
MAR 18, 2021
Pregnancy Alters the Stress Response in Surprising Ways
Researchers from Ohio State University have found that the stress response works in unexpected ways in pregnant mice. Th ...
Loading Comments...