As a runner, I’m constantly practicing my “mental game” – the mental strategies I use to try to make my body go farther and faster than you want to go comfortably. Some tricks work, others do not, and it’s always a challenge to figure out what will be motivating on a given day.
But what if you could see my brain activity and learn what strategies mental were “enlightenment” my motivation centers that were falling flat? I could spend my time tuning the material that works and not worry about the rest.
Such comments motivation may soon be available, thanks to an interesting research of scientists from Duke University. The study, which was published in a recent issue of neuron looked neurofeedback and how they can be used to help people understand what motivates them.
The study it focused on a part of the brain called the ventral tegmental area, or VTA, a small area deep within the brain that is a primary source of dopamine , the chemical transmitter known to play a role in motivation, learning and memory. Previous research has found that activity in this area is a good indication of whether or not a subject remember something successfully.
For this study, researchers asked participants to reach their own mental strategies try to activate the VTA area. Some participants imagined their coaches or parents encouraging them while others imagined several awards for his efforts. Using magnetic resonance imaging localized, researchers found that none of the participants were able to consistently activate their areas VTA on their own.
However, the researchers turned the tables and some participants are allowed to meet with exactly what strategies were creating activity in the VTA. These participants were able to more effectively “light up” the area, even after the vote was subsequently withdrawn form. In comparison, participants who do not see their brain activity were still unable to activate their own VTA.
Imagine the implications of being better able to understand what motivates your brain. It could help a person suffering from depression learn exactly what strategies could help prevent a downward spiral. It could make the difference between a successful diet and that starts strong and putters out. And maybe it could even help runners like me to sharpen mental tricks to keep going strong.