More Self-Control shows More Efficient Brain

Self Control

Researchers have found that people with more self control have more efficient brain.

This research has been published online in the journal Nature Communications.

Although the research is not clearly showing that whether efficient brains could result in more self control but the results are showing clearly that more self-control results in more willpower, according to the research author Marc Berman, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Toronto’s Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest.

“If your brain is so efficient you might be able to save resources,” Berman said.

Researchers in this study worked on individuals “first studied in children at age 4 years” for the famous “marshmallow test” 40 years ago. In the test, children were asked to eat one marshmallow immediately or wait for 15 minutes and eat two. Researchers found that the children, who waited for 15 minutes, grew to be significantly different from the other fellows. According to Berman, as teenagers they got higher scores on SATs and are less likely to abuse by drugs and after reaching the adulthood, they showed less body mass indices (BMI i.e. the measure of the body fatness), had more money in bank accounts and showed less chances of getting divorce.

Researchers did a brain scan of the 24 participants, who are 45 years old now, out of 600 original participants of the marshmallow test through functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while giving them a task of memory. They found that the participants, who showed high self-control were more efficient in performing the task and the blood flow in the scans showed that the brain networks used a more direct and simple path to do the task. “The present results suggest that dimensionality of neural networks is a biological predictor of self-control abilities”, researchers wrote.


Berman, M., Yourganov, G., Askren, M., Ayduk, O., Casey, B., Gotlib, I., Kross, E., McIntosh, A., Strother, S., Wilson, N., Zayas, V., Mischel, W., Shoda, Y., & Jonides, J. (2013). Dimensionality of brain networks linked to life-long individual differences in self-control Nature Communications, 4 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms2374

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