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
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."