Science

Why people procrastinate

People with poor action control had larger amygdala.

People with poor action control had larger amygdala.   | Photo Credit: XtockImages

Scientists used MRI scanner to study two brain areas

Scientist have identified brain regions that make people procrastinate — to put tasks off rather than tackling them directly.

Researchers at Ruhr-Universitat Bochum in Germany used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to identified two brain areas whose volume and functional connectivity are linked to an individual’s ability to control their actions.

They examined 264 women and men in an MRI scanner. They assessed the volume of individual brain regions and the functional connectivity between them. In addition, all participants completed a survey measuring their own ability to execute action control.

Individuals with poor action control had a larger amygdala. Moreover, the functional connection between the amygdala and the so-called dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dorsal ACC) was less pronounced.

The primary function of the amygdala is to assess different situations with regard to their respective outcomes and to warn us about potential negative consequences of particular actions.

The dorsal ACC uses this information in order to select actions that are to be put into practice. Moreover, by suppressing competing actions and emotions, it ensures that the selected action can be successfully completed

If the interplay between amygdala and dorsal ACC is impaired, action control can no longer be successfully executed, according to the theory put forward by the researchers.

“Individuals with a higher amygdala volume may be more anxious about the negative consequences of an action — they tend to hesitate and put off things,” said Erhan Genc, from Ruhr-Universitat Bochum.

“Due to a low functional connection between amygdala and dorsal ACC, this effect may be augmented, as interfering negative emotions and alternative actions might not be sufficiently regulated,” said Mr. Genc.

A letter from the Editor


Dear reader,

We have been keeping you up-to-date with information on the developments in India and the world that have a bearing on our health and wellbeing, our lives and livelihoods, during these difficult times. To enable wide dissemination of news that is in public interest, we have increased the number of articles that can be read free, and extended free trial periods. However, we have a request for those who can afford to subscribe: please do. As we fight disinformation and misinformation, and keep apace with the happenings, we need to commit greater resources to news gathering operations. We promise to deliver quality journalism that stays away from vested interest and political propaganda.

Support Quality Journalism
Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jun 5, 2020 3:21:59 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/why-people-procrastinate/article24781271.ece

Next Story