why my overtaxed prefrontal cortex wants a beer

I heard a story about willpower on NPR this morning that I wanted to share. You should listen to the story, because it’s actually pretty funny.

Basically, two groups of students were given numbers to remember – one group, a seven-digit number and the other group, a two-digit number. Then they were asked to walk down a hallway and were offered either a piece of cake or a dish of fruit.

“Here’s where the results get weird. The students with seven digits to remember were nearly twice as likely to choose the cake as students given two digits. The reason, according to Professor Shiv, is that those extra numbers took up valuable space in the brain — they were a “cognitive load” — making it that much harder to resist a decadent dessert. In other words, willpower is so weak, and the prefrontal cortex is so overtaxed, that all it takes is five extra bits of information before the brain starts to give in to temptation.”

It helps explain, they said, “why after a long day at the office, we’re more likely to indulge in a pint of ice cream,” (or in my case, a pint of beer).

So, I’m thinking it will help me make more productive decisions if I take the rest of the week off, right? Who’s with me?!

Core Challenge Update: I did another 270 crunches last night for a grand total of 810 crunches this week. I actually think they’re starting to get easier. I’m going to have to add some more difficult moves to my repertoire.

Plus, I skipped the beer this weekend so I think I actually made gains instead of just breaking even. 😉


4 thoughts on “why my overtaxed prefrontal cortex wants a beer

  1. I believe I will use this excuse so that I may continue to indulge in chocolate all week long. I love when stuff like this is scientifically proven…

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