Many animals, including humans, harbor ingrained biases to act when they can obtain rewards and to remain inactive to avoid punishment. Sometimes, however those biases can steer us wrong. A new study finds that theta brainwave activity in the prefrontal cortex predicts how well people can overcome these biases when a better choice are available.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Vertebrates are predisposed to act to gain rewards and to lie low to avoid punishment. Try to teach chickens to back away from food in order to obtain it, and you’ll fail, as researchers did in 1986. But humans are better thinkers than chickens. In the May 8 edition of the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers show that the level of theta brainwave activity in the prefrontal cortex predicts whether people will be able to overcome these ingrained biases when doing so is required to achieve a goal. (more…)