Lucky Guesses Maybe More Than Luck







This is Scientific American 60-Second Science. I’m Cynthia Graber. This’ll just take a minute.

        In the hit movie Slumdog Millionaire, the star answers game show questions correctly based on his life experiences. At least one right answer, however, is a lucky guess. But maybe the guess wasn’t so lucky. Maybe his brain actually knew the answer—even though he didn’t realize it.
        That’s what scientists at Northwestern University are saying about so
called lucky guesses. They published their research online in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
        Study participants were shown brightly colored pictures. They had to memorize half. While viewing the other half, they had to concentrate on remembering a spoken number. So they were distracted. Later, they were quizzed on all the images. Surprisingly, they were more successful at remembering those images that they only paid half a mind to. Not only that, but they were more accurate when they said they were just guessing. The researchers say their visual systems stored memories quite accurately, even when the participants weren’t paying attention. And that what we call intuition, some of those gut feelings we get, may often be based on good information.

Thanks for the minute for Scientific American 60-Second Science. I’m Cynthia Graber.