Brain Bulletin #58 - Would your brain pass the Marshmallow Test?

in Brain Bulletin

Would your brain pass the Marshmallow Test?

I read a great quote this week. Muhammad Ali said, "I discovered that all I had to do to become the greatest was to go to the gym when I wanted to, and to go to the gym when I didn't want to."

Delaying gratification can be hard for the brain. Just ask any dieter faced with a deluxe pizza! But studies have demonstrated delaying gratification is a sign of good brain function, and a harbinger of success in life.

It has to do with a particular part of the brain called the anterior prefrontal cortex. This is the part of the brain that helps you manage complex problems and simultaneous goals which leads to better self control.

It turns out that scientists can see the future by using marshmallows.

Four-year-old children are brought into a plain room and a single marshmallow is placed in front of them. They are told that they can eat it straight away, or if they wait for a while they will get two marshmallows. They children are then left alone. What follows is remarkable!

Here is the video link. I am certain you will enjoy it as much as I did: 

Science then waits for the kids to grow up.

"By the time the children reach high school, something remarkable has happened. A survey of the children's parents and teachers found that those who as four-year-olds had the fortitude to hold out for the second marshmallow grew to be better adjusted, more popular, adventurous, confident, and dependable teenagers. The children who gave in to temptation early on were more likely to be lonely, easily frustrated, and stubborn, They buckled under stress, and shied away from challenges. And when some of the kids in the two groups took the SAT, the kids who had held out longer scored and average of 210 points higher." Time Magazine.

Yale University conducted research on adults and found the same results.

These findings clearly have huge implications for parents, leaders, teachers, and all of us. Delayed gratification can be learned at any age. The benefits are immense.

I think the key here is to be mindful. Pay attention to what's going on and then help, or be helped.

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November was a challenging month. One of my busiest. I keynoted the Medical Imaging Conference on Vancouver Island, flew to Switzerland for 3 presentations on leadership and learning, and gave 14 local presentations.

This month, I fly to the Queen Charlotte Islands for 2 presentations. I will also speak to the RCMP, the City of Coquitlam, Kwantlen University, L'Ecole Bilingue, and squeeze in a Triple Your Reading Speed public seminar.

I'm ready for a brain break. I'm spending the last half of December with my family on the Baja. Speaking of delayed gratification....I wonder how many tacos pastor I can eat in 15 days....