Short-term meditation modulates brain activity of insight evoked with solution cue

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Abstract

Meditation has been shown to improve creativity in some situation. However, little is known about the brain systems underling insight into a problem when the person fails to solve the problem. Here, we examined the neural correlation using Chinese Remote Association Test, as a measure of creativity. We provide a solution following the failure of the participant to provide one. We examine how meditation in comparison with relaxation influences the reaction of the participant to a correct solution. The event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging showed greater activity, mainly distributed in the right cingulate gyrus (CG), insula, putamen, inferior frontal gyrus (IFG), and the bilateral middle frontal gyrus (MFG), the inferior parietal lobule (IPL) and the superior temporal gyrus (STG). This pattern of activation was greater following 5 h of meditation training than the same amount of relaxation. Based on prior research, we speculate on the function of this pattern of brain activity: (i) CG may be involved in detecting conflict and breaking mental set, (ii) MFG/IFG may play an important role in restructuring of the problem representation, (iii) insula, IPL and STG may be associated with error detection, problem understanding or general attentive control and (iv) putamen may be activated by ‘Aha’ feeling.

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