Thursday, August 12, 2004

The Procrastinating Monkey

by Asim Jalis

The Procrastinating Monkey Some excerpts from the article: Monkeys like humans procrastinate when working towards a distant goal. As they get closer to the reward they become focused and efficient. By disrupting the brain's chemistry researchers have found a way to monkeys into workaholics. Barry Richmond: "They [monkeys] work more efficiently -- make fewer errors -- as they get closer to being rewarded. But without the dopamine receptor, they consistently stayed on-task and made few errors, because they could no longer learn to use visual cues to predict how their work was going to get them a reward." The NMH team said they are hoping to understand mental illness. "In this case, it's worth noting that the ability to associate work with reward is disturbed in mental disorders, including schizophrenia, mood disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder, so our finding of the pivotal role played by this gene and circuit may be of clinical interest," Richmond said. "For example, people who are depressed often feel nothing is worth the work. People with obsessive-compulsive disorder work incessantly; even when they get rewarded they feel they must repeat the task. In mania, people will work feverishly for rewards that aren't worth the trouble to most of us."