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A neuroscience approach to innovative thinking and problem solving

Rebecca Merrett | July 28, 2015
New technique challenges the ‘keep at it and it’ll eventually happen’ tactic.

Canter said this technique challenges the 'keep at it and it'll eventually happen' approach, where we are used to thinking that working harder and longer pays off.

"But what the science has shown us is that is actually not true. We've actually learnt a better way of doing thinking that gives you better solutions and is less taxing in your health and wellbeing," she said.

"If you can't come up with an answer to a problem, we now know through neuroscience that if you put your attention onto another problem that is not quite as difficult but still difficult, if you switch to another problem for 15 minutes and then go back to the original problem, you will come up with the answer," Dr. Stratford added.

However, in order for the technique to work it does take discipline and commitment. Dr Stratford said it takes eight weeks on average to build a neural pathway, practising it every day so that the brain can form a new habit.

"It's mental discipline," Nott said. "You know, you always slip back into bad habits. So there's a little things that goes off in my mind that says, 'OK you haven't got to the answer wit this problem, so have you gather all the information?

"Instead of spiralling down in terms of keeping on in trying harder, gather all the information that you need, and then be confident enough to step away from it for a brief amount of time and that will enable you to solve it quickly in the long run."


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