I begin by listing four quite striking, possibly counterintuitive findings from research on problem solving.

1. People who show the symptoms of ADHD—notably, a tendency to be easily distracted from the task at hand—have been repeatedly found to be much better at solving certain kinds of problems than are people who don’t show these symptoms. I summarized and referenced some of the evidence for this in a previous essay (also see Boot, Nevicka, & Baas (2017).

2. People who, because of strokes or tumors, have suffered damage to the prefrontal lobes of the cortex (brain areas that help focus attention and help develop conscious problem-solving strategies) have been found to be much better than people with intact brains at solving certain kinds of problems (Reverberi et al., 2005).

(continue reading)