12

Dec

You’re walking and you see an obstacle in front of you in the next second you put your foot forward.

You think to yourself for that split second on trying to avoid the obstacle, but you end up stepping on it anyway, unable to control your predetermined movement.

We can’t always stop what we’ve started and according to recent research, there’s a definite parts of our brain chemistry that can explain this phenomenon.

“Stopping a planned behavior requires extremely fast choreography between several distinct areas of the brain, the researchers found. If we change our mind about taking a step even a few milliseconds after the original ‘go’ message has been sent to our muscles, we simply can’t stop our feet.”

According to the research performed by scientists at John Hopkins University, changing one’s plan of motion takes a “lightning-fast” interaction between our prefrontal cortex and our premotor cortex. This communication needs to occur to stop the initially planned action, but even if that change of action is 200 milliseconds too late, our initial action will still happen.

These findings can be correlated with why older people (who generally have slower brain functions) are more likely to fall, or who are unable to make quick changes of plan. Analyzing this research could also offer conclusions for why people engage in addictions, such as binge-drinkers.

“We think there are similar processes in ‘should I do this’ and ‘can I turn off that thought about the drink’ …the sooner I can turn off the plan to drink, the less likely I’ll carry out the plan. It’s very relevant,” stated Susan Courtney, a professor of psychological and brain sciences and the senior author of the study.

Research such as this will hopefully help with future treatments for those dealing with addictions and those who suffer from cognitive dysfunction due to age.