Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Logo
Wednesday, November 14, 2018 10:34:35 PM
Follow Us On: Facebook Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter

The neural signature of procrastination

By
29th-Aug-2018       
Comments
Share your thought
Post a comment »
Read all () »

Timothy A Pychyl Ph.D. :
I was delighted to see the publication of this study! A team of researchers from the Faculty of Psychology, Ruhr University Bochum, Germany conducted a very interesting and important study. They took a rare neuroscientific approach to the study of action control and procrastination. Using a sample of 264 young adults, they conducted fMRI brain scans to explore the neural correlates of the ability to initiate and sustain action. The theory behind this research is not something that I want to take on for this blog post, but we have published previously on this topic (see reference below), demonstrating that an inability to initiate action, known broadly as state orientation, is related to procrastination. Theoretically, we could even say that this aspect of action control is a causal factor in understanding procrastination. The really interesting thing about this most recent study is that Caroline Schlüter and her colleagues have now linked this inability to control action to anatomical differences in the brain as well as functional connections between brain regions.
They found a relation between the gray matter volume of the amygdala and difficulties in initiating action (theoretically this is known as decision-related action orientation). The authors note that "individuals who are state oriented when it comes to initiating actions and therefore tend to hesitate or procrastinate show higher amygdala volume" (p. 5). This physiological research provides the neural signature of what I and my colleagues have referred to for years as an "amygdala hijack." For example, in our recent edited volume Procrastination, Health and Well-Being, my co-editor, Dr. Fuschia Sirois (University of Sheffield) explained that the mood-regulation that defines procrastination can best be understood by this shorthand expression, "amygdala hijack."  To understand this, you need to understand a little more about the amygdala.
As the authors explain, the amygdala is a neuroanatomical hub for fear-motivation behavior. Put simply, it's the "fight or flight" center of the brain. During fear conditioning, it encodes distinct memories that become critical in decision-making situations, because this is when the affective significance of a given behavior, stimulus, threat, or reward needs to be evaluated. Is the situation a threat, something I should avoid?
In this respect, the amygdala guides the selection of actions by using previous experience to select desirable behaviors and inhibit others. Of course, as the authors write, ". . . this means that individuals with a larger amygdala volume have learned from past mistakes and evaluate future actions and their possible consequences more extensively. This, in turn, might lead to greater concern and hesitation, as observed in individuals with low AOD scores (Blunt & Pychyl, 1998)."
In addition to larger amygdala volume, the researchers also explored how this neuroautomical hub was connected to other brain regions. The question here was focused on functional connectivity rather than anatomical size. Here the researchers again found an unique difference related to the amygdala between those with action control difficulties and those who do not have trouble initiating behaviors. Specifically, interindividual differences related to action control were related to differences in resting-state connectivity between the amygdala and the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) - a region of the brain that is known for the top-down regulation of the amygdala and various facets of self-control.
Although any single study has limitations which the authors certainly address, this is an exciting contribution to the literature on action control and procrastination. This neural signature of action control maps on very well to our theoretical understanding of procrastination as a problem with emotion regulation.
Finally, it's important to remember that biology is not destiny, our brains can change. Learning occurs, and we often refer to this as neural plasticity. For example, research by Adrienne Taren (University of Pittsburg) has shown that even 8 weeks of mindfulness meditation shrinks the volume of the amygdala, increases the volume of the prefrontal cortex and changes the connectivity of these brain regions.  If you're prone to the amygdala hijack that we know as procrastination, it may be time to learn how to down-regulate your emotional response to the tasks in your life. It's certainly possible, and now we have a little better understanding of just what might be going on in terms of our neuroanatomy.

(Timothy is the Director of the Centre for Initiatives in Education and faculty member in the Department of Psychology at Carleton University (Ottawa, Canada).

Tariff
Add Rate

News Archive

Inside The New Nation

Sports »

Los Angeles Clippers guard Sindarius Thornwell (left) and Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green scramble for a loose ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles on Monday.


Football »

Rooney excited for 'great moment' in England farewell


Wayne Rooney says he is honoured to make a final appearance for England and happy for manager Gareth Southgate to decide his playing time Thursday against the United States.Former Manchester United star Rooney, in video comments released Monday by his Major League Soccer club DC United, detailed his excitement at ...

City »

Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda, among others, at a press briefing for returning officers on the occasion of eleventh parliamentary election in the auditorium of Election Commission Secretariat in the city on Tuesday.


International »

Nobody can stand in its way in Pacific island cooperation: China


Reuters, Beijing :No country can block China's cooperation with island nations in the Pacific and the area is no country's sphere of influence, a senior diplomat said on Tuesday, ahead of a summit between President Xi Jinping and Pacific island leaders.Australia, in particular, has been vying for influence with China ...

International »

Israel-Gaza border facing most serious fighting since 2014 war


Reuters, Gaza :Israel launched more air strikes on Gaza on Tuesday as Palestinians kept up rocket fire on Israeli territory, in the worst surge of violence since a 2014 war.The fighting - that has killed six Palestinians, five of them militants, and a civilian in Israel since Monday -threatened to ...

Entertainment »

Oishee in China to win `Miss World` crown


Jannatul Ferdous Oishee crowned 'Miss Bangladesh 2018' on November 30. Now, she is in China for participating in the 'Miss World' beauty contest. There she will represent Bangladesh. On Saturday night at 1:00 am, Oishi left Dhaka for Sanya in China. And she reached there on Sunday morning.Swapan Chowdhury, chairman ...

Football »

New York City forward David Villa (7) movers the ball as Atlanta United defender Miles Robinson (12) defends during the first half of their MLS playoff soccer match in Atlanta on Sunday.


Football »

Ronaldo ends San Siro hoodoo as Juventus beat Milan 2-0


AP, Milan :Cristiano Ronaldo ended his San Siro hoodoo to help Juventus to a 2-0 win after AC Milan forward Gonzalo Higuain missed a penalty against his former team on Sunday.Higuain left Juventus in the offseason following the signing of Ronaldo and he had a nightmare game as he was ...

Editorial »

No development yet in city's road traffic management


THE directives to ensure discipline in traffic system issued by higher authorities have failed to bring any result. The traffic rule violation is still rampant. Almost all directives addressing owners and workers of city service buses and human haulers, pedestrians and drivers went unheeded. If the traffic management system returns ...

International »

California wildfires: Death toll reaches grim milestone


The death toll in wildfires sweeping California has risen to 31, with more than 200 people still unaccounted for, officials have said.Six more people were confirmed killed in the Camp Fire in the north of the state, taking the toll there to 29.That fire now equals the deadliest on record ...

City »

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina receiving ASOCIO 2018 Digital Government Award from Post, Telecommunication and Information Technology Minister Mostofa Zabbar at the cabinet meeting on Monday.


Entertainment »

Mamo, Puja share big screen for first time


Sheikh Arif Bulbon :It was earlier fixed that Raihan Rafi directed and Jaaz Multimedia produced movie Dohon was scheduled to release on November 16. Later releasing date was changed to November 30. Owner of Jaaz Abdul Aziz confirmed the matter yesterday. Main theme of the story was given by him ...

Entertainment »

Sonakshi Sinha has only special appearance in Mission Mangal?


Actor Akshya Kumar recently announced the entire cast of India’s first space film Mission Mangal. The film is set to go on floors next month and will be helmed by Jagan Shakti. Besides Akshay as the main lead, Mission Mangal has an impeccable leading cast that includes names like Vidya ...

Football »

Iran women attend Asian Football final in rare `victory`


Hundreds of Iranian women attended a crunch football match in Tehran, in a rare step seen Sunday as a "victory" by local newspapers and hailed by FIFA as an "historic and festive day" for the sport.About a thousand women were allowed into Azadi Stadium late Saturday to watch Iranian giant ...

Editorial »

Bring the criminals to book and ensure their harsher punishment


ANOTHER woman was killed in a running bus on Friday night. This time her father was also pushed off the vehicle on Dhaka-Tangail highway in Savar. The incident may remind one of the rape and murder of law student Rupa Khatun inside a running bus in Tangail over a year ...

 
Items that you save may be read at any time on your computer, iPad, iPhone or Android devices.
 
Are you new to our website? Do you have already an account at our website?
Create An Account Log in here
Email this news to a friend or like someone
Email:
Write a comment to this news