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.
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How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.
While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.
A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.
We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.
Using advanced laser technology, scientists at NASA will track global changes in ice with greater accuracy.
Leaving from Vandenberg Air Force base in California this coming Saturday, at 8:46 a.m. ET, the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 — or, the "ICESat-2" — is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, and when it assumes its orbit, it will study ice layers at Earth's poles, using its only payload, the Advance Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS).
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