Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study links delay of gratification to how brain structures are connected

05.06.2015

The ability to delay gratification in chimpanzees is linked to how specific structures of the brain are connected and communicate with each other, according to researchers at Georgia State University and Kennesaw State University.

Their findings were published June 3 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

This study provides the first evidence in primates, including humans, of an association between delay of gratification performance and white matter connectivity between the caudate and the dorsal prefrontal cortex in the right hemisphere, said Dr. Robert Latzman, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Georgia State, who led the study with Dr. William Hopkins, professor of neuroscience at Georgia State.


Pictured are a series of 12 serial views of a chimpanzee's brain, projecting from the base of the brain, showing the white matter connectivity between the caudate and the dorsal prefrontal cortex. The scans were projected onto a standard chimpanzee template brain.

Credit: The Royal Society

The researchers found higher white matter connectivity between the caudate and dorsal prefrontal cortex in the right hemisphere of the brain was associated with the learning of delay of gratification.

Delay of gratification, the need to control emotional and behavioral impulses, is one of the earliest demands placed on individuals and is of critical importance, Latzman said.

"Delay of gratification or self-control is core to a number of different types of mental illnesses, most notably ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder)," said Latzman. "This ability and the developmental process that occurs when children learn to delay gratification and inhibit an immediate want for a longer-term goal is a hugely important developmental milestone."

There is a considerable need for understanding connections among brain regions associated with delay of gratification abilities, such as the two regions that showed significant results in this study, Latzman said.

The task used to measure delay of gratification in chimpanzees in this study is a parallel task to that used in a series of famous experiments conducted by psychologist Walter Mischel at Stanford University in the 1960s and 1970s. Preschoolers were placed alone in a room furnished with a small desk and on the desk were two marshmallows and a bell. The researcher told the child he had to leave the room, but when he returned, the child could eat both marshmallows. If the child wanted to eat one marshmallow before the researcher returned, the child could ring the bell and eat one, but not both. When the researcher shut the door, some children ate the marshmallow right away and others tried to distract themselves, according to The New York Times.

In follow-up studies, Mischel found that delay of gratification abilities at age 4 can predict a number of behaviors into adolescence and adulthood, including planning and reasoning abilities, control of negative emotions, standardized test scores, higher educational attainment, better coping abilities, fewer interpersonal difficulties, less substance use and higher self-esteem and self-worth more than 20 years later, according to Latzman.

The current study involved 49 chimpanzees that were trained to perform a delay of gratification task. Researchers placed grapes in a transparent PVC pipe with a closed bottom and trained the chimpanzees to delay gratification in receiving the grapes. The study used chimpanzees because their self-control abilities, as compared to other model species such as monkeys, closely resemble those of human children and both their neuroanatomy and neural development are quite similar to humans. They also share a very high degree of genetic overlap, Latzman said.

"We trained them to learn that if they waited, the one grape becomes two grapes and two grapes become three grapes and three grapes become four grapes and so on. There's variability in how well they do and it was this variability that we were interested in," Latzman said.

All chimpanzees received DTI (diffusion tensor imaging) brain scans during their annual physical examination. Data were acquired that allowed the researchers to examine white matter tracts, or bundles of neurons that connect one part of the nervous system with another, between the caudate and prefrontal cortex. The white matter connectivity between these brain structures was compared to the chimpanzees' delay of gratification abilities.

###

The research team also included Dr. Jared Taglialatela of Kennesaw State.

The study is supported by the National Institutes of Health.

Media Contact

LaTina Emerson
lemerson1@gsu.edu
404-413-1353

 @GSU_News

http://www.gsu.edu 

LaTina Emerson | EurekAlert!

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Some brain tumors may respond to immunotherapy, new study suggests
11.12.2018 | Columbia University Irving Medical Center

nachricht Climate change and air pollution damaging health and causing millions of premature deaths
30.11.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

Im Focus: Researchers develop method to transfer entire 2D circuits to any smooth surface

What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.

Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...

Im Focus: Three components on one chip

Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.

Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

New discoveries predict ability to forecast dementia from single molecule

12.12.2018 | Health and Medicine

CCNY-Yale researchers make shape shifting cell breakthrough

12.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Pain: Perception and motor impulses arise in the brain independently of one another

12.12.2018 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>