Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Paper Pinpoints a Seat of Self-Control in the Brain

Date:
March 31, 2010
Source:
Columbia University
Summary:
The ability to delay gratification allows humans to accomplish such goals as saving for retirement, going to the gym regularly and choosing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In a new paper, a team of researchers for the first time causally shows that this ability is rooted in a part of the frontal lobe of the brain: the prefrontal cortex.

The ability to delay gratification allows humans to accomplish such goals as saving for retirement, going to the gym regularly and choosing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In a paper published March 28 in the journal Nature Neuroscience, a team of researchers for the first time causally shows that this ability is rooted in a part of the frontal lobe of the brain: the prefrontal cortex.

Related Articles


Led by Bernd Figner, a research scientist at Columbia University's Department of Psychology, and Elke Weber, a founding director of the Center for Decision Sciences at Columbia Business School, the team used a non-invasive brain-stimulation technique (called transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS) to temporarily disrupt the function of the lateral prefrontal cortex in a group of volunteers.

Out of 52 healthy subjects, one-third received stimulation to the left prefrontal cortex; one third to the right prefrontal cortex; and one third, the control group, received sham stimulation. After the stimulation, the volunteers were asked to make choices between smaller, immediate rewards or larger, later rewards.

"When we disrupted the function of the left prefrontal cortex, we found that people more often chose the tempting immediate rewards," says Figner.

Significance

"There's a very important general need to understand the ability to delay gratification in these kinds of decisions," says Figner. "This ability has been implicated not only in many decisions that we all face every day but also in psychiatric disorders related to impulse control such as substance abuse. Also, when we look at development in children and adolescents, these age groups also have a hard time delaying gratification. In these age groups, the lateral prefrontal cortex is not yet fully developed. This is another piece of the puzzle as to why these younger age groups have a harder time delaying gratification."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Columbia University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Bernd Figner, Daria Knoch, Eric J Johnson, Amy R Krosch, Sarah H Lisanby, Ernst Fehr, Elke U Weber. Lateral prefrontal cortex and self-control in intertemporal choice. Nature Neuroscience, 2010; DOI: 10.1038/nn.2516

Cite This Page:

Columbia University. "New Paper Pinpoints a Seat of Self-Control in the Brain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 March 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100330161843.htm>.
Columbia University. (2010, March 31). New Paper Pinpoints a Seat of Self-Control in the Brain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100330161843.htm
Columbia University. "New Paper Pinpoints a Seat of Self-Control in the Brain." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100330161843.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
1st Responders Trained for Autism Sensitivity

1st Responders Trained for Autism Sensitivity

AP (Dec. 16, 2014) More departments are ordering their first responders to sit in on training sessions that focus on how to more effectively interact with those with autism spectrum disorder (Dec. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Guys Are Idiots, According To Sarcastic Study

Guys Are Idiots, According To Sarcastic Study

Newsy (Dec. 12, 2014) A study out of Britain suggest men are more idiotic than women based on the rate of accidental deaths and other factors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Believing in Father Christmas Good for Children's Imaginations

Believing in Father Christmas Good for Children's Imaginations

AFP (Dec. 12, 2014) As the countdown to Christmas gets underway, so too does the Father Christmas conspiracy. But psychologists say that telling our children about Santa, flying reindeer and elves is good for their imaginations. Duration: 01:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins