We know we should put the cigarettes away or make use of that gym membership, but in the moment, we just don’t do it. There is a cluster of neurons in our brain critical for motivation, though. What if you could hack them to motivate yourself?
These neurons are located in the middle of the brain, in a region called the ventral tegmental area. A paper published Thursday in the journal Neuron suggests that we can activate the region with a little bit of training.
That changed when the participants were allowed to watch a neurofeedback meter that displayed activity in their ventral tegmental area. When activity ramps up, the participants see the meter heat up while they’re in the fMRI tube.
“Your whole mind is allowed to speak to a specific part of your brain in a way you never imagined before. Then you get feedback that helps you discover how to turn that part of the brain up or down,” says John Gabrieli, a neuroscientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was not involved with the work.
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