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Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 228, Issue 4, pp 437–443 | Cite as

Brain mechanisms of valuable scientific problem finding inspired by heuristic knowledge

  • Tong Dandan
  • Li Wenfu
  • Dai Tianen
  • Howard C. Nusbaum
  • Qiu JiangEmail author
  • Zhang QinglinEmail author
Research Article

Abstract

Heuristics through the application of heuristic knowledge to the creation of imitation devices may be one of the most common processes in scientific innovation. In particular, heuristics suggests that innovation includes the automatic activation of heuristic knowledge and formation of novel associations between heuristic knowledge and problem situations. In this study, 76 scientific innovation problem situations were selected as materials. Among these, 36 contain related heuristic knowledge and 40 have no such information. Through functional magnetic resonance imaging, the learning–testing paradigm was used to explore the brain mechanisms of scientific problem finding inspired by heuristic knowledge. Participants were asked to find a problem on the basis of a given innovation problem situation. Two scenarios were presented: finding scientific problems with related heuristic knowledge and finding conventional problems without related heuristic knowledge. The authors assumed that the regions in the brain significantly activated by the finding scientific problems with related heuristic knowledge condition compared with the finding normal problems without related heuristic knowledge condition are relevant to the brain mechanisms of scientific problem finding inspired by heuristic knowledge. The first scenario more significantly activated the left precuneus and left angular gyrus than did the second scenario. These findings suggest that the precuneus is relevant to the successful storage and retrieval of heuristic knowledge and that the left angular gyrus is involved in the formation of novel associations between heuristic knowledge and problem situations for finding scientific problems.

Keywords

Scientific problem finding Heuristic knowledge Event-related fMRI Precuneus Angular gyrus 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31170983; 31271087), the Program for New Century Excellent Talents in University (2011) by the Ministry of Education, and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (SWU1209101). The authors thank the anonymous reviewer for helpful comments.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Cognition and PersonalitySouthwest University, Ministry of EducationChongqingChina
  2. 2.School of PsychologySouthwest UniversityChongqingChina
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyThe University of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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