I doubt many would be surprised to learn that the processes of investigation and revelation occur in different parts of the brain. Investigation involves a system of methodical trial and error while revelation is an “ah ha” moment that comes at the speed of light, as if a switch has been flipped in a darkened room.
Both brain functions are useful but revelation requires less sweat equity and is associated with creativity.
Writer Victoria Bryce tells us how to encourage revelation in her recent article for Scientific American Mind. (The AHA! Moment,” by Victoria Bryce, Scientific American Mind, July/August 2014 pg. 38.) The process begins with having a broad base of knowledge, an attribute of the curious, and then asking the question of any task, “How can I do this differently?” Forcing ourselves to look at an old problem in a new way is key.
After reflection, if no answer presents itself, Bryce recommends mentally walking away. The unconscious mind will do the work for us. I admit that when I hit a snag with my writing, my habit is to stop for a cup of tea, or to stare out the window at the antics of a garden squirrel. Often, by the time I’ve returned to the computer, my problem is solved and I can’t type fast enough to capture the new idea.
Revelations, according to Bryce, aren’t mystical but one way the brain works. Being aware of the process allows us to use it to our advantage.