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
AUG 10, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
Cannabis Use During Pregnancy Linked to Autism
AUG 10, 2020
Cannabis Use During Pregnancy Linked to Autism
Researchers from The Ottawa Hospital in Ontario, Canada, have found that children born to mothers who used cannabis whil ...
AUG 22, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
Could a Drug for Bipolar Disorder Treat COVID-19?
AUG 22, 2020
Could a Drug for Bipolar Disorder Treat COVID-19?
Researchers have found that a drug currently used to treat bipolar disorder and hearing loss may also treat COVID-19 tha ...
AUG 22, 2020
Neuroscience
Obeying Orders Reduces Empathy-Related Brain Activity
AUG 22, 2020
Obeying Orders Reduces Empathy-Related Brain Activity
Researchers from the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience have found obeying orders reduces brain activity related to ...
SEP 11, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
Frequent Cannabis Use Does Not Increase Pain Sensitivity
SEP 11, 2020
Frequent Cannabis Use Does Not Increase Pain Sensitivity
Researchers from the University of British Columbia have found that frequent cannabis use is not associated with increas ...
SEP 16, 2020
Neuroscience
Men and Women Have Different Circadian Rhythms
SEP 16, 2020
Men and Women Have Different Circadian Rhythms
From a meta-analysis, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania have found that men and women tend to have differe ...
OCT 29, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
More Frequent Trips to the Pediatrician Linked to a Future Autism Diagnosis
OCT 29, 2020
More Frequent Trips to the Pediatrician Linked to a Future Autism Diagnosis
 
Loading Comments...