How the Brain Chooses Between Doing What We Should and Doing What We Want
Why are some people more willing to put in hard work now for a larger payoff in the future? Neuroscientists believe the effect of dopamine contributes to how we tolerate the tedium of work.
What's the Latest Development?
Some of the most necessary things in life can also be the most boring. Now, scientists at Vanderbilt University have a better understanding of why some people can stay on task and others are more prone to seek immediate pleasure. In an experiment, the presence of more dopamine in the brain's left striatum and ventromedial prefrontal cortex was associated with a greater willingness to work harder for future rewards. In another part of the brain, the insula, the relationship was inverted. The more dopamine present made individuals more aware of the unpleasantness of doing a boring task.
What's the Big Idea?
Although we are not consciously aware of the calculations our brain is making, our behavior seems largely determined by sets of chemical reactions. So when it comes to high levels of performance in any field, which requires thousands of hours of practice whether you are playing the piano or programming software, some people are more willing to endure the tedium that accompanies mastering a particular discipline. "These diligent souls seem to get a bit more pleasure from the possibility of reward, but they also seem less sensitive to their inner complainer." This is the neuroscience of effort.
Photo credit: Shutterstock.com
Harvard psychologists discover why we dislike the people who deliver bad news.
- A new study looked at why people tend to "shoot the messenger".
- It's a fact that people don't like those who deliver them bad news.
- The effect stems from our inherent need to make sense of bad or unpredictable situations.
He reminds us that meaning is wherever we choose to look.
- Alan Watts suggests there is no ultimate meaning of life, but that "the quality of our state of mind" defines meaning for us.
- This is in contradiction to the notion that an inner essence is waiting to be discovered.
- Paying attention to everyday, mundane objects can become highly significant, filling life with meaning.
If life exists on Mars, there's a good chance it's related to us, say researchers.
When MIT research scientist Christopher Carr visited a green sand beach in Hawaii at the age of 9, he probably didn't think that he'd use the little olivine crystals beneath his feet to one day search for extraterrestrial life.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.