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Neural Activity When People Solve Verbal Problems with Insight

Figure 4

Gamma-Band Power for Insight and Noninsight Solutions

(A) Grand average time course of EEG power (in v2) at 39 Hz estimated with the Morlet wavelet transform at right superior temporal electrode T8. The x-axis represents time (in seconds) with the yellow arrow and R marking the point in time of the solution button-press response (i.e., 0.0 s). The green horizontal bars above the x-axis represent the time intervals used in the statistical analyses and topographic maps. Note that gamma-band power for insight trials (red line) starts to increase above power on noninsight trials (blue line) by approximately 0.3 s before the button press.

(B) Time-frequency plots of the insight minus noninsight difference shown in (A). The y-axis represents frequency (in Hz); the x-axis represents time (in seconds, with respect to the button press, exactly as shown in [A]). Red areas of the plot reflect times and frequencies at which insight EEG power is greater than noninsight EEG power; blue areas reflect times and frequencies at which noninsight EEG power is greater than insight EEG power. Note the sudden emergence of increased gamma power for insight solutions approximately 0.3 s before the button press.

(C) Insight minus noninsight gamma-band differences plotted as topographic maps (LH and RH) of scalp current density (in v2/m2) estimated by a spline-based Laplacian transform computed with a realistic FMRI-derived head model. The Laplacian transform acts as a high-pass spatial filter that minimizes the contribution of activity distant from each electrode, thereby manifesting discrete, relatively superficial sources. The maps are thresholded to show foci of current density at the upper and lower 20% of the scale. Note the prominent effect of insight (effect for insight greater than effect for noninsight, in red) at the right superior temporal electrode (T8) and surrounding electrodes present from −0.30 to −0.02 s (measured with respect to the solution response) that is not present in the earlier epoch (−1.52 to −0.36 s). The blue area over left inferior parietal cortex (electrode P7) indicates that noninsight gamma power is nonsignificantly greater than insight power (F[1,19] < 1) over this region.

Figure 4

doi: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.0020097.g004