Avoid impulsive acts by imagining future benefits

Posted on April 5, 2013

By thinking about the future reward, patient people were able to gain what economists call “anticipatory utility.” While their reward was far away in time, they were giddy with anticipation in the present.

Why is it so hard for some people to resist the least little temptation, while others seem to possess incredible patience, passing up immediate gratification for a greater long-term good?

The answer, suggests a new brain imaging study from Washington University in St. Louis, lies in how effective people are at feeling good right now about all the future benefits that may come from passing up a smaller immediate reward. Researchers found that activity in two regions of the brain distinguished impulsive and patient people.

“Activity in one part of the brain, the anterior prefrontal cortex , seems to show whether you’re getting pleasure from thinking about the future reward you are about to receive,” explains study co-author Todd Braver, PhD, professor of psychology in Arts

Category(s):Inattention, Impulsivity, & Hyperactivity (ADHD)

Source material from Washington University in Saint Louis

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