Willpower a Matter of the Mind, Says Stanford Prof

Willpower is not only in our heads, but in a certain part of the brain, according to an interesting experiment at Stanford University.

People depend on willpower to make changes in their health, but why is it so hard to change? An interesting new experiment may offers a clue.

A professor at Stanford University conducted an experiment using two groups of students. He gave one group a two-digit number to remember and the other a seven-digit number. He told all the students to walk down a hall and choose either a piece of chocolate cake or a bowl of fruit salad. According to the results, the students who had to remember seven digits were almost twice more likely to pick the cake.

According to Dr. Baba Shiv, who conducted the experiment, when the prefrontal cortex is given too much extra information to deal with, it’s more likely to make decisions that are based on instant gratification. 

The lesson? Make food and exercise choices when your brain isn’t overloaded, such as grocery shopping on a lazy Saturday, or taking your lunch to work rather than trying to make food choices in the middle of a busy workday, when your brain is likely to be overloaded.

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