Monday, January 28, 2013
Decisions Tire the Brain
An article by On Amir in Scientific American, explains how using the brain's executive functions draws upon a single resource of limited capacity in the brain. In other words, when this resource is exhausted by one activity, your mental capacity may be hindered in another activity. You flex your executive function every time you focus on a specific task for an extended period of time or make a decision about eating a salad instead of chocolate-chip cookies. And when, later in the day, you need to make an important decision, your brain may be out of energy and your decision-making ability may suffer. For example, in one study, participants who made more choices in a shopping mall were less likely to persist and do well in solving simple algebra problems. In another study, students who had to mark preferences about the courses they would take to satisfy degree requirements were much more likely to procratstinate on preparing for an important test. Instead, their "tired" minds engagee in distracting leisure activities.