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Neuroimage. 2007 Oct 15;38(1):228-38. Epub 2007 Jul 24.

Neural processes underlying intuitive coherence judgments as revealed by fMRI on a semantic judgment task.

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Institute of Medical Psychology, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany.


Daily-life decisions and judgments are often made "intuitively", i.e., without an explicit explanation or verbal justification. We conceive of intuition as the capacity for an effortless evaluation of complex situations on the basis of information being activated, but at the moment of decision not being consciously retrieved. Little is known about which neural processes mediate intuitive judgments and whether these are distinct from those neural processes underlying explicit judgments. Employing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) we show that intuitive compared to explicit judgments in a semantic coherence judgment task are associated with increased neural activity in heteromodal association areas in bilateral inferior parietal and right superior temporal cortex. These results indicate that intuitive coherence judgments activate neural systems that are involved in the integration of remote associates into a coherent representation and, thus, support the assumption that intuitive judgments are based on an activation of widespread semantic networks sparing a conscious representation.

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