Neuropsychologist Oliver Trumbull to present new research on problem solving and intuition

When developing imaginative solutions to complex problems, humans tend to rely on emotion-laden "feelings" or "hunches" an approach that philosophers have counseled against for millennia. Nevertheless, the last decade of neuroscientific research has shown that this intuitive approach to imaginative problem-solving (technically "emotion-based learning") is actually rather useful and is often indispensable when humans tackle complex and uncertain problems. This suggests a central role for emotion in the highest realms of intellectual life, so that creative decision-making cannot be regarded as a purely "cognitive" process. Indeed, the decision-making of those who lack this emotion-laden system is often dramatically inappropriate.

On Saturday, January 14, 2006 at 10:00 am neuropsychologist Oliver Trumbull, Ph.D., a lecturer at the School of Psychology at the University of Wales, will give a research presentation on imaginative problem solving, intuition, and emotion-based learning at the Philoctetes Center and simulcast in the auditorium of The New York Psychoanalytic Institute, 247 East 82nd Street, New York.

This recent research, funded by the Philoctetes Center and being presented here for the first time, focuses on the role of this emotion-laden system in the domain of empathy investigating how successful humans are at judging the emotional experience of others when making complex choices. In addition to being vitally important in the interpersonal domain, empathy is also central in a range of "expert knowledge" settings when an intern or apprentice is required to observe the choices, and the emotional consequences of the choices, of another human being.

Despite its potential importance, this topic has been hugely under-investigated, and Dr. Trumbull"s research has already outlined some important boundaries to these abilities. In particular, we are now able to take an educated guess at which factors are likely to be important in situations that permit us to learn from the experiences of others.

Dr. Trumbull's presentation is part of the inaugural Gala weekend celebration inaugurating the new Philoctetes Center. For information regarding other Gala events, email [email protected]

This presentation will be broadcast through closed circuit television to additional seating in the Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public. Seating is limited on a first come basis.


The mission of the Philoctetes Center is to foster the study of imagination -- funding research, organizing roundtable discussions, offering courses and lecture programs. The Center is also developing a web-based clearing house on work related to the imagination.

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
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