Have an account? Please log in.
Text size: Small font Default font Larger font
Radiology Daily
Radiology Daily PracticalReviews.com Radiology Daily

Brain Scans Find Slacking May Be Hard-Wired

May 4, 2012
Written by: , Filed in: Neuroradiology
  • Comments

Dopamine, the neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers, can motivate you to work hard. Or, if it’s released in a different part of the brain, it can nudge you toward taking the easy way out.

Therefore, maybe, slacking is hard-wired and not just a lifestyle choice.

So indicates a study based on PET brain scans. Vanderbilt University researchers in Nashville carried out the study, which was published Wednesday in The Journal of Neuroscience. David Treadway, PhD, one of the study’s authors, said:

Past studies in rats have shown that dopamine is crucial for reward motivation, but this study provides new information about how dopamine determines individual differences in the behavior of human reward-seekers.

Dr. Treadway, a postdoctoral student, was quoted in a Vanderbilt news release.

The researchers offered study subjects a choice of an easy or a hard game. The easy game could earn them $1. The hard game could win them as much as $4. Those willing to work harder for higher rewards had a greater release of dopamine in the striatum and ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Those areas of the brain are known to play an important role in reward and motivation.

The subjects who didn’t want to work as hard and settled for a lesser reward had high dopamine levels in the anterior insula, an area of the brain that plays a role in emotion and risk perception.

The finding that dopamine can have different effects in different areas of the brain surprised—and excited—the researchers. It implied the possibility of objectively measuring depression and other psychological disorders that involve reduced motivation.

“Right now, our diagnosis for these disorders is often fuzzy and based on subjective self-report of symptoms,” said David Zald, PhD, a Vanderbilt professor of psychology and associate professor of psychiatry. “Imagine how valuable it would be if we had an objective test that could tell whether a patient was suffering from a deficit or abnormality in an underlying neural system. With objective measures, we could treat the underlying conditions instead of the symptoms.”

Dr. Zald is an author of the study.

Some additional research is under way, and Dr. Zald said more was needed. In the meantime, the unmotivated might find it easiest just to say that they can’t help it; their brains make them that way.

* * *

The American Cancer Society recommended prostate cancer screening without sufficient data. Who says so? The society’s chief medical officer, Otis Brawley, MD. See our Facebook page for more of his outspoken comments.

Related seminar: Neuroradiology Review


Permalink: http://www.radiologydaily.com/?p=8610


  • No Related Posts
  • Comments

Would you like to keep current with radiological news and information?

Post Your Comments and Responses

Comments are closed.