Mark Beeman

Mark Beeman
Northwestern University | NU · Department of Psychology

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74
Publications
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Publications

Publications (74)
Article
When people try to solve a problem, they go through distinct steps (encoding, ideation, evaluation, etc.) recurrently and spontaneously. To disentangle different cognitive processes that unfold throughout a trial, we applied an unsupervised machine learning method to electroencephalogram (EEG) data continuously recorded while 39 participants attemp...
Preprint
Full-text available
Creativity research often relies on human raters to judge the novelty of participants’ responses on open-ended tasks, such as the Alternate Uses Task (AUT). Albeit useful, manual ratings are subjective and labor intensive. To address these limitations, researchers increasingly use automatic scoring methods based on a natural language processing tec...
Article
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According to the Gestalt theorists, restructuring is an essential component of insight problem-solving, contributing to the “Aha!” experience, and similar to the perceptual switch experienced when reinterpreting ambiguous figures. Previous research has demonstrated that pupil diameter increases during the perceptual switch of ambiguous figures, and...
Article
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Problem-solving is essential for advances in cultural, social, and scientific knowledge. It is also one of the most challenging cognitive processes to facilitate. Some problem-solving is deliberate, but frequently people solve problems with a sudden insight, also known as a Eureka or “Aha!” moment. The advantage of solving problems via insight is t...
Article
The present study used functional magnetic resonance imagining (fMRI) to examine the role of focused attention in divergent thinking and real-life creativity. Participants completed a Navon task, on which the stimuli consisted of a large letter made up of the smaller version of the same (congruent), or a different (incongruent) letter. Participants...
Poster
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People can solve problems through methodical analysis, or with a sudden insight (accompanied by an "Aha!" or "Eureka!" experience). Previous research has shown that these two ways of generating ideas are associated with distinct neural correlates and physiological markers. Solutions via insight correlate with a decrease of activity over the visual...
Conference Paper
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Introduction: Idea generation stands at the heart of problem solving. People generate ideas by either having a sudden insight (implicit processing known as an "Aha! moment") or via a step-by-step analysis (explicit deliberation). Behavioral and neuroimaging studies demonstrated that these two ways of solving problems rely on distinct neural network...
Poster
Full-text available
Introduction: Idea generation stands at the heart of problem solving. People generate ideas by either having a sudden insight (implicit processing known as an “Aha! moment”) or via a step-by-step analysis (explicit deliberation). Behavioral and neuroimaging studies demonstrated that these two ways of solving problems rely on distinct neural network...
Article
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Creative problem solving involves search processes, and it is known to be hard to motivate. Reward cues have been found to enhance performance across a range of tasks, even when cues are presented subliminally, without being consciously detected. It is uncertain whether motivational processes, such as reward, can influence problem solving. We teste...
Poster
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The relation between problem-solving and risk taking was studied using Compound Remote Associate problems. Before each problem participants bet from 1 to 5 cents on their solution accuracy. Results show a linear association between the percent of insight solutions and the amount bet before the problem and on the following trial.
Article
How accurate are insights compared to analytical solutions? In four experiments, we investigated how participants' solving strategies influenced their solution accuracies across different types of problems, including one that was linguistic, one that was visual and two that were mixed visual-linguistic. In each experiment, participants' self-judged...
Article
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Previous studies showed that liberals and conservatives differ in cognitive style. Liberals are more flexible, and tolerant of complexity and novelty, whereas conservatives are more rigid, resistant to change and prefer clear answers. We administered a set of Compound Remote Associate problems, a task extensively used to differentiate problem solvi...
Article
The dopaminergic (DA) system may be involved in creativity, however results of past studies are mixed. We attempted to clarify this putative relation by considering the mediofrontal and the nigrostriatal DA pathways, uniquely and in combination, and their contribution to two different measures of creativity–an abbreviated version of the Torrance Te...
Article
Creativity has been putatively linked to distinct forms of attention, but which aspects of creativity and which components of attention remains unclear. Two experiments examined how divergent thinking and creative achievement relate to visual attention. In both experiments, participants identified target letters (S or H) within hierarchical stimuli...
Article
Creative ideas seem often to appear when we close our eyes, stare at a blank wall, or gaze out of a window-all signs of shutting out distractions and turning attention inward. Prior research has demonstrated that attention-related brain areas are differently active when people solve problems with sudden insight (the Aha! phenomenon), relative to de...
Article
Full-text available
Rebus puzzles and compound remote associate problems have been successfully used to study problem solving. These problems are physically compact, often can be solved within short time limits, and have unambiguous solutions, and English versions have been normed for solving rates and levels of difficulty. Many studies on problem solving with sudden...
Article
Previous research provides disparate accounts of the putative association between creativity and psychopathology, including schizotypy, psychoticism, hypomania, bipolar disorder, ADHD, and autism spectrum disorders. To examine these association, healthy, non-clinical participants completed several psychopathology-spectrum measures, often postulated...
Article
Spatial attention can operate like a spotlight whose scope can vary depending on task demands. Emotional states contribute to the spatial extent of attentional selection, with the spotlight focused more narrowly during anxious moods and more broadly during happy moods. In addition to visual space, attention can also operate over features, and we sh...
Article
Full-text available
Insight occurs when a person suddenly reinterprets a stimulus, situation, or event to produce a nonobvious, nondominant interpretation. This can take the form of a solution to a problem (an "aha moment"), comprehension of a joke or metaphor, or recognition of an ambiguous percept. Insight research began a century ago, but neuroimaging and electroph...
Conference Paper
A neurocomputational framework is described for characterizing how intuitive and deliberate processing are accomplished in the human brain. The framework is derived from memory systems theory and supported by research findings on contrasts between implicit versus explicit (nonconscious versus conscious) memory. Implicit intuition and deliberate ded...
Article
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A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a subject is symbolic of another unrelated object. In the present study, we examined neural patterns associated with both novel unfamiliar and conventional familiar metaphoric processing, and how these patterns are modulated by affective valence. Prior to fMRI scanning, participants received a list of word...
Article
Full-text available
There are at least two competing hypotheses of how attention interacts with creative cognition, although they are not mutually exclusive. The first hypothesis is that highly creative people are particularly flexible at switching their attention - that is, they adaptively shift focus among different attentional levels using cognitive control. The se...
Article
The present study investigated the limits of semantic processing without awareness, during continuous flash suppression (CFS). We used compound remote associate word problems, in which three seemingly unrelated words (e.g., pine, crab, sauce) form a common compound with a single solution word (e.g., apple). During the first 3 s of each trial, the t...
Article
In this study we examined asymmetric semantic activation patterns as people listened to conversations and narratives that promoted causal inferences. Based on the hypothesis that understanding the unique features of conversational input may benefit from or require a modified pattern of conceptual activation during conversation, we compared semantic...
Article
Often when failing to solve problems, individuals report some idea of the solution, but cannot explicitly access the idea. We investigated whether such intuition would relate to improvements in solving and to the manner in which a problem was solved after a 24- hour delay. On Day 1, participants attempted to solve Compound Remote Associate problems...
Article
Full-text available
Behavioral and neuroimaging findings indicate that distinct cognitive and neural processes underlie solving problems with sudden insight. Moreover, people with less focused attention sometimes perform better on tests of insight and creative problem solving. However, it remains unclear whether different states of attention, within individuals, influ...
Article
In the century since the Gestalt psychologists introduced insight as a component process of perception and problem solving, researchers have studied the phenomenological, behavioral, and neural components of insight. Whether and how insight is different from other types of problem solving, such as analysis, has been a topic of considerable interest...
Poster
Full-text available
Previous studies have demonstrated distinct patterns of activity in occipital cortex for solving verbal problems via insight compared to solving analytically, both immediately prior to solution and in rest periods before each problem is presented. Here, we examined eye movement and eye blink patterns associated with the two different problem-solvin...
Poster
Full-text available
The influence of problem-solving styles on solution accuracy was studied using Compound Remote Associate problems in two experiments, the second of which examined the accuracy of responses across two time windows. Solutions achieved via insight are more likely to be correct than answers achieved via analysis.
Article
Insight occurs when problem solutions arise suddenly and is associated with an “Aha!” experience. While much research on insight has focused on event-related, goal-directed neural responses, there is growing interest in the spontaneous, resting-state brain activity. A recent study using high-density electroencephalograms (EEG) has demonstrated a de...
Article
Psychological theories have suggested that creativity involves a twofold process characterized by a generative component facilitating the production of novel ideas and an evaluative component enabling the assessment of their usefulness. The present study employed a novel fMRI paradigm designed to distinguish between these two components at the neur...
Article
Recent research has suggested that when people are in a positive mood they show reduced attentional selectivity and broadened attentional filters. Rowe, Hirsh, and Anderson (2007) investigated this effect by inducing happy and sad moods with happy or sad music while participants were completing attention tasks. Participants completing a flanker int...
Article
Full-text available
A sudden comprehension that solves a problem, reinterprets a situation, explains a joke, or resolves an ambiguous percept is called an insight (i.e., the “Aha! moment”). Psychologists have studied insight using behavioral methods for nearly a century. Recently, the tools of cognitive neuroscience have been applied to this phenomenon. A series of st...
Conference Paper
Analogical reasoning is one of the most complex forms of human thought, allowing us to adaptively navigate the complex environments of everyday life and to meet the demands of challenging situations we may never have encountered before. The ability to relate novel situations to previous, well- understood experiences in terms of common relational st...
Article
Transliminality reflects individual differences in the threshold at which unconscious processes or external stimuli enter into consciousness. Individuals high in transliminality possess characteristics such as magical ideation, belief in the paranormal, and creative personality traits, and also report the occurrence of manic/mystic experiences. The...
Article
Full-text available
Previous research has shown that people solve insight or creative problems better when in a positive mood (assessed or induced), although the precise mechanisms and neural substrates of this facilitation remain unclear. We assessed mood and personality variables in 79 participants before they attempted to solve problems that can be solved by either...
Article
The present study examined the role of the left (LH) and right (RH) cerebral hemispheres in processing alternative meanings of idiomatic sentences. We conducted two experiments using ambiguous idioms with plausible literal interpretations as stimuli. In the first experiment we tested hemispheric differences in accessing either the literal or the id...
Article
Full-text available
Due to inconsistent findings, the role of the two cerebral hemispheres in processing metaphoric language is controversial. The present study examined the possibility that these inconsistent findings may be due, at least partly, to differences in the type (i.e., words vs sentences) or the familiarity of the linguistic material. Previous research has...
Article
Full-text available
Although it has been consistently shown that readers generate bridging inferences during story comprehension, little is currently known about the neural substrates involved when people generate inferences and how these substrates shift with factors that facilitate or impede inferences, such as whether inferences are highly predictable or unpredicta...
Article
People can solve problems in more than one way. Two general strategies involve (A) methodical, conscious, search of problem-state transformations, and (B) sudden insight, with abrupt emergence of the solution into consciousness. This study elucidated the influence of initial resting brain-state on subjects' subsequent strategy choices. High-density...
Article
The authors describe how they have used visual-hemifield and event-related neuroimaging approaches to study their theory specifying some of the neural components of insight. A set of problems developed by the authors, and the use of solvers' self reports of insight, are presented to argue that advances in our understanding of insight are being unne...
Article
Full-text available
The neural networks associated with processing related pairs of words forming literal, novel, and conventional metaphorical expressions and unrelated pairs of words were studied in a group of 15 normal adults using fMRI. Subjects read the four types of linguistic expressions and decided which relation exists between the two words (metaphoric, liter...
Article
Insight occurs when problem solutions arise suddenly and seem obviously correct, and is associated with an "Aha!" experience. Prior theorizing concerning preparation that facilitates insight focused on solvers' problem-specific knowledge. We hypothesized that a distinct type of mental preparation, manifested in a distinct brain state, would facilit...
Article
In this event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, participants listened to and comprehended short stories implying or explicitly stating inference events. The aim of this study was to examine the neural mechanisms that underlie inference generation, a process essential to successful comprehension. We observed distinct patter...
Article
Full-text available
Comprehension of natural language--stories, conversations, text--is very simple for those doing the comprehending and very complex for cognitive neuroscientists. It also presents a paradox: the advantage of the left hemisphere (LH) for most language tasks is one of the best-established facts about the brain; yet, when it comes to comprehending comp...
Article
After a person has become stuck on a problem, they sometimes achieve a clear and sudden solution through insight--the so-called Aha! experience. Because of its distinctive experience, the origins and characteristics of insight have received considerable attention historically in psychological research. However, despite considerable progress in char...
Article
Full-text available
People sometimes solve problems with a unique process called insight, accompanied by an "Aha!" experience. It has long been unclear whether different cognitive and neural processes lead to insight versus noninsight solutions, or if solutions differ only in subsequent subjective feeling. Recent behavioral studies indicate distinct patterns of perfor...
Data
Full-text available
Cortical Regions Showing “Insight Effects” Below Cluster Size Threshold The far left lane shows for each region a single slice best depicting the cluster activated above threshold; middle lane shows time course of signal following insight (red line) and noninsight (blue line) solutions, across the entire active cluster; right panel shows the “insig...
Article
Full-text available
We have developed and tested 144 compound remote associate problems. Across eight experiments, 289 participants were given four time limits (2 sec, 7 sec, 15 sec, or 30 sec) for solving each problem. This paper provides a brief overview of the problems and normative data regarding the percentage of participants solving, and mean time-to-solution fo...
Article
Full-text available
In one experiment, we tested for an association between semantic activation in the right hemisphere (RH) and left hemisphere (LH) and the Aha! experience when people recognize solutions to insight-like problems. The compound remote associate problems used in this experiment sometimes evoke an Aha! experience and sometimes do not. On each trial, par...
Article
Full-text available
In five experiments, we examined the time course of hemispheric differences in solution activation for insight-like problems. We propose that solving insight problems requires retrieval of unusual interpretations of problem elements, and that right-hemisphere (RH) coarse semantic coding is more likely than left-hemisphere (LH) fine semantic coding...
Article
In three experiments, healthy young participants listened to stories promoting inferences and named inference-related test words presented to the right visual field-Left Hemisphere (rvf-LH) or to the left visual field-Right Hemisphere (lvf-RH). Participants showed priming for predictive inferences only for target words presented to the lvf-RH; in c...
Article
Two experiments examined hemispheric differences in information processing that may contribute to solving insight problems. We propose that right-hemisphere (RH) coarse semantic coding is more likely than left-hemisphere (LH) fine semantic coding to activate distantly related information or unusual interpretations of words, and thus more likely to...
Article
In order to assess the hypotheses that Alzheimer's disease (AD) results in a property level restructuring, loss, or degradation of lexical-semantic knowledge, Alzheimer's patients and normal elderly subjects were presented with a property verification task in which they were asked to judge the truth value of telegraphic statements which paired obje...
Article
Abstract There are now numerous observations of subtle right hemisphere (RH) contributions to language comprehension. It has been suggested that these contributions reflect coarse semantic coding in the RH. That is, the RH weakly activates large semantic fields-including concepts distantly related to the input word-whereas the left hemisphere (LH)...
Article
Following a stroke, patient TL presented with a pure alexia that also displayed the features of phonological alexia (poor pseudoword reading, part-of-speech effect). This pattern was absent, however, when words were spelled aloud to TL. We propose that, with visual input, orthographic word forms are only weakly activated in TL. This weak activation...
Article
After listening to multiple-episode stories that promoted coherence inferences, right hemisphere-damaged patients answered Inference questions about the stories less accurately than Explicit questions, whereas normal elderly subjects answered both question types equally well. In addition, while subjects listened to the stories they made lexical dec...
Article
We investigated two seemingly contradictory phenomena: the Advantage of the First-Mentioned Participant (participants mentioned first in a sentence are more accessible than participants mentioned second) and the Advantage of the Most Recent Clause (concepts mentioned in the most recent clause are more accessible than concepts mentioned in an earlie...
Article
Full-text available
We describe the use of the Apple-Psych system to conduct language comprehension experiments. Using this system, we have implemented several tasks commonly used to assess the cognitive processes involved in language comprehension. These include segment-by-segment reading tasks in which the stimuli are presented visually, and divided-attention and cr...
Article
Senior honors Thesis--Brandeis University, 1990. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 12-14).

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