Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Intuition can be explained

02.07.2008
Intuition, or tacit knowledge, is difficult to measure, so it is often denigrated. A new dissertation in education research from Linköping University in Sweden shows that there is a neurobiological explanation for how experience-based knowledge is created.

“Can’t ‘splain sump’n to somebody who doesn’t understand it”; “my legs think faster than I do” (Swedish alpine skiing champion Ingemar Stenmark). “Skate where the puck´s going, not where it´s been” (Wayne Gretsky).

Lars-Erik Björklund uses these quotations in his dissertation to illustrate what we mean by intuition, tacit knowledge, hands-on knowledge, or practical wisdom. It is based on experience and is something that experts in many fields possess.

“In studies from the 1980s on nurses, it was shown that those who had been in the profession for a long time saw more and made better judgments more quickly. It was referred to as an intuitive ability,” says Lars-Erik Björklund, who devoted his thesis to a review of research in various fields involving this knowledge.

In the 1990s similar studies were done on physicians and business people, with similar results. The fact that people with long experience are often better at what they do, that practice makes perfect, is nothing new. But no good explanations have been put forward as to why this is the case.

A few years ago neuroscientists discovered that the human brain has dual systems for receiving and analyzing sensory impressions, one conscious and one unconscious. In the unconscious, that is the non-declarative system, our sensory impressions are compared with previously stored images. We all have an inner picture book of stored experiences based on what has happened to us previously in life. We also remember the outcome -¬ did it end well or badly? With the aid of these stored sensory impressions, we unconsciously assess the situation at hand and can predict the outcome. This capacity is especially helpful in complex and information-rich situations with a great deal of noise.

The more variations of a situation we have experienced, the richer our picture book will be and the more probable it will be that we recognize the situation at hand.

“It can be a matter of smells, gestures, an ineffable combination of impressions that makes what we call intuition tell us something,” says Lars-Erik Björklund. “We have a memory that needs to be filled up with sensory impressions.”

However, these memories are stored only if they affect us. In other words, for experience to be built up, there must be commitment.

This means, according to Lars-Erik Björklund, that we can never read or calculate our way to all the knowledge and abilities we need in our professional life. Practical experience is indispensable and needs to be revaluated. An uncertified teacher with ten years of experience in the profession can be a much better teacher, assuming that this person is committed to the job, than a newly certified teacher, no matter how knowledgeable he or she is in terms of subject matter knowledge.

He also argues that components involving practice and lab work need to be expanded rather than cut in professional programs for engineers, teachers, and physicians. “We need to see, feel, smell, hear, taste, and experience with our senses. This collection of data can’t be replaced by studying course literature,” he writes.

“Experience is under-evaluated today, and this is perhaps because we haven’t understood this type of tacit knowledge. Now we know, thanks to brain researchers.”

“They (experts) may not be as hungry or energetic as a young recently certified associate, but they have a superior ability to see and judge what should and what can be done,” he writes in his conclusion.

Anika Agebjörn | alfa
Further information:
http://www.liu.se

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Another reason to exercise: Burning bone fat -- a key to better bone health
19.05.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care

nachricht Disrupted fat breakdown in the brain makes mice dumb
19.05.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

Im Focus: Bacteria harness the lotus effect to protect themselves

Biofilms: Researchers find the causes of water-repelling properties

Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...

Im Focus: Hydrogen Bonds Directly Detected for the First Time

For the first time, scientists have succeeded in studying the strength of hydrogen bonds in a single molecule using an atomic force microscope. Researchers from the University of Basel’s Swiss Nanoscience Institute network have reported the results in the journal Science Advances.

Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe and is an integral part of almost all organic compounds. Molecules and sections of macromolecules are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

Innovation 4.0: Shaping a humane fourth industrial revolution

17.05.2017 | Event News

Media accreditation opens for historic year at European Health Forum Gastein

16.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New approach to revolutionize the production of molecular hydrogen

22.05.2017 | Materials Sciences

Scientists enlist engineered protein to battle the MERS virus

22.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Experts explain origins of topographic relief on Earth, Mars and Titan

22.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>