The Aha! Moment

We have all experienced the great moments of clarity, when suddenly everything makes sense. Your heart starts beating faster, a smile creeps up on your face and you gain real wisdom – wisdom that changes your perception of the world. Some call this feeling the Eureka Effect based on a story of Archimedes jumping out of a public bathroom and shouting Eureka! as he realized how to solve a difficult problem he was facing. I prefer to call this experience the Aha! Moment based on the German Aha-Erlebnis as I am not an ancient Greek philosopher and I certainly do not like public bathrooms.


You do not only encounter these moments when finally solving coding challenges, but when hearing jokes also. Have you ever heard a joke that did not seem funny at first? And right the second silence fell on the room, your brain finally made a click, you realized why the cute girl on the other side of the table was laughing so hysterically and you start laughing too. Just like… 3 seconds too late. It maybe does not happen to you, but it surely does happen to me and the wave of emotional satisfaction feels exactly the same like solving a hard coding problem.

These Aha! moments occur when your brain redistributes and reanalyzes the available information to forms a novel conclusion. The region of the brain responsible for this change is the hippocampus, widely know for its role in the formation of long- and short-term memory as well as spatial navigation.

Theoretically, “insight” means the reorientation of one’s thinking, including breaking of the unwarranted “fixation” and forming of novel, task-related associations among the old nodes of concepts or cognitive skills. Processes closely related to these aspects have been implicated in the hippocampus.

In their fMRI study Jing Luo & Kazuhisa Niki (abstract cited above) fabricated these experiences on a study group using Japanese riddles. As far as the riddles go I do understand that there are concepts that can not move a nail, but.. I do not feel any smarter after reading that the answer to the riddle is a river. I would not be a good study candidate. (I do love participating in brain imagining studies though and whenever I get the opportunity I participate gladly). What we should learn from that research (jokes aside) is that whenever you experience a Aha! moment, your brain just integrated new information into your memory and somehow connected it to whatever already was in there. That is important. That is why we all push our boundaries and challenge ourselves with previously unseen programming tasks. To force ourselves to be better, smarter and more versatile thinkers. Because after your hippocampus formed new connections, you will later discover them again and again, when you need them most.


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Verbalize Your Thinking!

Solving new challenges can be hard. The harder it is, the more rewarding a solution feels. Sometimes, solutions written by other people work as a miraculous food for thought that opens doors into concepts you never thought of before. I would like this blog to be more than a reference that you know to visit when you are on search for solutions that you can copy-paste into the appropriate test window. I first started it as a self reference to keep track of my learning. The user base grows with every day and I think that we can do something positive with it. Not only will it support our learning process, but it will create interesting networking opportunities as well. Continue reading

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Why No Wise Words Will Help

It is essential to every professional to grow her insights on the technology she is working with. In general I am talking about reading books, blogs, listening to pod-casts, solving small challenges, going to meetups or generally just talk to people from the same domain. Yet reading alone is not going to hep. You can spend hours watching tutorial videos on the newest and hottest technology trend, and learn nothing. The funny thing about this approach, is that it does not help you in any way, as long as you do not internally integrate the new knowledge. I am talking about resonance. Do you know the feeling, when the text you are reading is making you excited? You instantly know many situations, when if you already had this knowledge, everything would have been easier. Why is that?


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