The Motivation Switch in Your Brain

Posted on September 26, 2017

Two complex processes – motivating yourself towards achieving a goal and understanding what other people might want in order to help you achieve your goals – have been traced back to the same group of neurons in our brain: the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, or dmPFC.

This discovery was recently made by a neuroscience team at Zhejiang University in China, which has been focusing on the different functions of the dmPFC. In their experiment, the male rats were stimulated directly in their dmPFC through optogenetics – a combination of genetics and direct light to control the activity of brain cells. A video of the experiment is available on youtube at .
The researchers found that this part of our brains is crucial for the process called ‘Theory of Mind,’ which is defined as the ability to attribute mental states (e.g. beliefs, desires, intentions, etc.) to oneself, as well as understanding that others have beliefs, desires, and intensions that are different from one’s own.

These mental states of others are often much harder to predict than those of one’s self, so the dmPFC uses incoming information obtained through observation (for example interactions and behaviour cues) to read someone’s mind and thereby constantly update one’s mental “snapshots” of the other person.

Since humans are highly social animals, from a historical point of view, the ability to estimate others’ preferences and beliefs accurately is essential for successful social adaptation and survival.

Category(s):Emotional Intelligence

Source material from My Brain Test

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