SOCIAL SCIENCE | German researchers explore neural causes of procrastination
BERLIN, GERMANY — A team of German researchers have examined why some people postpone tasks rather than act immediately, and they’ve identified two areas of the brain that are to blame, the Ruhr University Bochum announced on Tuesday.
Researchers at the university have examined 264 women and men using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and the research findings were published on the journal “Psychological Science” of Aug. 17, 2018.
They determined the volume of individual brain areas and their functional networking. In addition, all subjects completed a questionnaire assessing their ability to control their actions.
Researches found people with bad action control had a bigger amygdala. In addition, the functional connection between the amygdala and the so-called dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dorsal ACC) was less pronounced.
The function of the amygdala is to judge a situation and its outcome, and to warn people of the possible negative consequences of an action.
The dorsal ACC uses information about the potential outcome of an action to select actions to be taken. It also suppresses competing actions and emotions, so that a selected action can be successfully completed.
“People with higher amygdala volumes may be more afraid of the negative consequences of an act, therefore, they hesitate and postpone things,” researcher Erhan Genc said.
“The low functional coupling between the amygdala and the dorsal ACC could further enhance this effect,” said Genc.
The research team suggested, although individual differences in the ability to control action have a major impact on personal and professional success as well as our mental and physical health, their neural foundations have so far been little researched.