Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Mind Pops

A recent article on Scientific American.com talks about a cognitive phenomenon we have all experienced but may not have had a name for.

The idea is that something we were thinking about hours or days ago remains unresolved and so our unconscious keeps picking at it.  At some point, a small cue, even one we might not be aware of, triggers it into active memory and we get a “mind-pop.” 

They usually appear when we are doing something routine, boring, or otherwise takes very little of our attention.  So there is a lot of capacity left over for our brain to get back to picking at the unresolved issue.  And then all of a sudden – mind pop.

The research that the article cites suggests that “super-primers” who have mind-pops more often than the rest of us are better problem-solvers and more creative. 

I don’t think I experience these enough to be a super-primer, although the article also says that often we are unaware when they happen.  But it is good to have a name for it.

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