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An incubation effect occurs when you “let a problem rest” and then try again to answer it. During this period of rest, it is thought that your brain unconsciously does problem solves. Brodt et al. (2018) investigated if this incubation period is better spent awake or asleep. They introduced participants to different types of tasks, and had them stay awake or sleep before attempting the problems again. They found that sleep was not better than staying awake, and concluded that while incubation may exist, sleep is not a better form than staying awake. In this study, I am proposing that participants be given an additional task, do specific activities during their wake incubation, and incubate (asleep or awake) for either 20 or 90 min rather than 3 hours. Due to these changes, I expect different results than Brodt et al. (2018), in particular a difference in performance between the 20 min and 90 min groups for both sleep and wake incubation. This study could provide insight into the role of REM sleep in incubation. It could also provide insight into the role of activity in wake incubation. The brain is constantly working to solve problems and generate ideas. Learning more about the unconscious brain could lead to the enhancement of both of these functions.
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McCullers, Henry C., "Further Investigation Into the Power of Wake and Sleep Incubation in Creative Problem Solving" (2023). Senior Projects Spring 2023. 259.
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