Neurobiology of Intuition

The neurobiology of intuition and the science that studies it indicate that its use is now more important than ever. In a world that is at times chaotic and complex, knowing how to listen to that inner voice can help us make better decisions.

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The neurobiology of intuition exists and reveals something very interesting to us: many of our decisions are based on those hunches. After all, it is nothing more than that internal voice that is in contact with our identity and with the essence of everything lived, felt and experienced. Thus, by giving space to our intuitive side, we provide a tool of great value.

Let’s face it, intuition often leads us to invisible realms, to connect with a side of ourselves that operates in the deepest recesses of the subconscious. Sometimes, it is so strange to us that it is common to come to think that this dimension has little of a scientist, that lacking logic enters rather into the realm of the mystical. However, to assume this is a mistake.

Intuition is our sixth sense and, as such, this dimension has ample scientific literature. We have books as interesting as Educate the intuition of Robin M. Hogarth or Intuitive Intelligence of Malcolm Gladwell. In these works, as in many others that collect contrasted data, remind us of the importance of this type of resource, which helps us to complement analytical thinking.

Moreover, medical researchers such as Jonas Salk, who was known at the time to develop the polio vaccine, wrote an interesting work in 1983 titled Merging of Intuition and Reason, in which he spoke of the need to keep our sixth sense in mind. day to day We all need that internal voice to help us make better decisions.

“The only real valuable thing is intuition”.

-Albert Einstein-

What does the neurobiology of intuition tell us?

First, the neurobiology of intuition tells us that these mental processes do not come from the human imagination. They actually have a neurological correlate. It was Dr. Keiji Tanaka of the Brain Science Institute RIKEN who carried out an interesting study to try to give answers about how the sixth sense is articulated at the brain level.

For this, he used some experimental shogi players as experimental subjects. It is a strategy game very similar to chess, in which the most skilled people brilliantly resort to intuition to perform amazing moves. Dr. Tanaka, also performed a series of magnetic resonances to this group of people to see what brain areas were used to a greater degree.

The precuneum

Within the neurobiology of intuition, it could be seen that the area that most illuminated was the precuneum. It is a small part of the superior parietal lobe that, in turn, is located right in the middle of both cerebral hemispheres.

The precuneum, in addition, is related to episodic memory, visuospatial processing and what is more interesting, with our conscience.

The ventromedial prefrontal cortex

Another interesting area that is activated when we use those more intuitive responses is the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. This is, without a doubt, a very relevant structure. The reason? It stores information about past rewards, as well as the weight of errors suffered or facts that we should avoid so as not to suffer unpleasant consequences.

It was, in fact, the famous neuroscientist Antonio Damasio, who determined the importance of this area in our decision making. The most remarkable thing about this area is that it encourages us to emit responses based on emotions.

To understand it better we will give an example. We meet someone at a party, someone who invites us afterwards to go home.

The ventromedial prefrontal cortex can make a quick analysis based on past experiences. Maybe the character, aspect, way of speaking of that person causes us distrust, because it reminds us of another whose outcomes were not good.

Therefore, this structure will emit an emotion of alarm to give us a touch of attention.

That will be the way in which the voice of intuition becomes present in our conscious mind.

Now, once that internal voice is heard, we have two options. Pay attention to him or else, pass that feeling through the filter of the most analytical thinking to make a more thorough evaluation.

The caudate nucleus

Scientific studies on the neurobiology of intuition also tell us about the caudate nucleus.

The structure is part of the basal ganglia, areas linked to learning processes, our habits and more automatic behaviors.

The caudate nucleus, therefore, facilitates that impulse to the sixth sense to help us make quick and almost automatic decisions based on previous experiences or learning.

“Do not let the noise of the opinions of others silence your inner voice. And, what is more important, have the courage to do what your heart and your intuition dictate to you. Somehow, you already know what you really want to become.”

-Daniel Goleman-

In this way, and as we can see with all these data, there is little room to suspect that these processes respond to mere imagination or chance. Intuition does not only have neural correlates; part of our experience, is nourished by the essence of our personality and that chest of the subconscious where the essence of our being sleeps.

Speaking of hunches is not talking about pseudoscience, in fact, it is making use of that mechanism that has so defined the human being, regardless of their gender or their culture. Let us reflect on this, always attend to that internal voice, complementing it with analytical thinking.