SAT Writing and Language Practice Test: The Eureka Effect

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The Eureka Effect

You've probably had the experience. After racking your brain for hours to solve a problem, you finally put it aside and move on to other things. Then, much later, seemingly out of 34 nowhere, perhaps while showering or driving-the answer suddenly strikes you. Psychologists call this the "Eureka effect," from the ancient Greek word meaning "I have found it," 35 which Archimides is said to have shouted as he ran naked from his bathtub through the streets of Syracuse upon suddenly solving a vexing physics problem.

Does this feeling arise from our emotional centers or our cognitive centers? In other words, is it simply an emotional response to finding a solution, or does it 36 foretell a fundamentally different way of thinking? Psychologists have tried to answer this question by looking inside subjects' brains as they solve problems, using electroencephalograms (EEGs) and other tools.

In one 37 experiment, subjects performed a word association task, scientists measured the activity in the region of the brain called the right hemisphere anterior superior temporal gyrus (RH aSTG). This region is known to be active in tasks, such as finding a theme in a story, 38 that requires integrating and bringing together information from many distant parts of the brain, but is not particularly active in emotional responses.

The subjects were asked to perform a challenging verbal association task, press a button as soon as 39 solving it, and report whether or not they felt the "Aha!" feeling. If they did, the response was classified as an "insight" solution. If they did not, it was classified as a "non-insight" solution.

40 What was interesting, experimenters found that the insight solutions were accompanied by an elevated level of "gamma band" activity in the RH aSTG, supporting the theory that the feeling 41 had corresponded to a cognitive process rather than purely an emotional one. 42

Interpreting 43 this data is not a very simple matter, however. Many questions remain to be answered. For instance, does the increased gamma-band activity represent a transition of cognitive processing from an unconscious state to a conscious one? 44 If that is true, a question would be what are the unconscious processes that are working? Also, in what way do those processes become conscious all of a sudden?


  • B. nowhere-perhaps
  • C. nowhere: perhaps
  • D. nowhere; perhaps


  • B. what Archmides is said to shout
  • C. that Archimedes shouted, it is said
  • D. which Archimedes it is said had shouted


  • B. indicate
  • C. provide
  • D. generate


  • B. experiment by which subjects
  • C. experiment where subjects
  • D. experiment, in which subjects


  • B. that require integrating and bringing together
  • C. that require integrating
  • D. that requires integrating


  • B. it was being solved
  • C. they solved it
  • D. it's solution


  • B. The interesting thing was that
  • C. It was interesting that
  • D. Interestingly,


  • B. corresponds
  • C. is corresponding
  • D. will correspond

42. At this point in the passage, the author wants to mention specific evidence indicated by the graph. Which statement is most justified by the data in this graph?

  • A. The gamma power in the RH aSTG for the insight solution is more than double that for the non-insight solution.
  • B. This increase in activity seems to begin about 0.3 seconds prior to the button-press response, and to lasts about 1 second.
  • C. The gamma activity for the insight solution appears to be roughly equivalent to that for the non-insight solution until the instant the button is pushed.
  • D. This increase in activity seems to begin about 0.3 seconds after the button-press response, and to last about 0.5 second.


  • B. this data are
  • C. these data are
  • D. these data is

44. Which of the following best combines the last two sentences into one?

  • A. If so, what are the unconscious processes that are working, suddenly becoming conscious?
  • B. If so, what unconscious processes are at work, and how do they suddenly become conscious?
  • C. If so, what would be the unconscious processes working, and how would they suddenly become conscious?
  • D. If so, what are both the unconscious process at work, and how do they suddenly become conscious?