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Surprising Science

A Wow Explanation of What Happens When You Experience a Wow Moment

Steven Kotler explains what happens in your brain at aha moments.

Flow. It’s a brain state that fascinates scientists because it appears to be the well from which creativity flows. It was first identified by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi his 1988 book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal ExperiencePsychology Today describes it this way:


Action and awareness merge. Our sense of self and our sense of self consciousness completely disappear. Time dilates—meaning it slows down (like the freeze frame of a car crash) or speeds up (and five hours pass by in five minutes). And throughout, all aspects of performance are incredibly heightened—and that includes creative performance.


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