Jun 10, 2019 09:56 AM EDT
Inflammation and human behavior -- new research studies shed new light on how this two exhibit a rather fascinating relationship. New findings are suggesting that the immune system of the human body plays a huge role in how people are kept motivated and how they make their decisions.
A rather interesting body of evidence shows that the inflammatory activity in the brain influences the way people think, especially in situations when they are regulating themselves or when they need to make a decision. For example, there are new studies that contend the strong association between suicidal thoughts and neuroinflammation implying that physiological mechanisms can be linked to major behavioral outcomes.
Scientists from the Texas Christian University led the new study that found compelling evidence linking proinflammatory cytokines and the focused decision-making. The study presented the hypothesis that individuals suffering from higher levels of inflammation prefer an immediate form of gratification over receiving delayed rewards. The idea revolves around the concept of the human body when placed in a stressful situation focuses more on how to deal with the immediate scenario than to wait for what is to come.
To put the hypothesis to a test, they employed 159 healthy participants and induced them with proinflammatory cytokines, measured in salivary levels and then exposing them to pictures that show the threat of physical harm. Then, a series of surveys were conducted to evaluate the present focus, evaluate impulsivity and their personal ability to delay gratification.
Essentially, the evidence shows that there are higher markers that correlate to the matters that require immediate rewards to the future. Evolutionary scientists have long studied the idea that when organisms are placed in difficult situations, they tend to exhibit preference over immediate rewards compared to future potentials. What is exciting about these new studies is that it revealed how these decisions can be mechanically guided by the body's physiological process. Inflammation has been found to be able to exacerbate impulsive and present-focused decisions.
"When the body is fighting an infection or trying to heal a wound, the brain recalibrates its mechanism to motivate the body to do other things so not much energy is spent on it," said Michael Treadway, one of the corresponding authors of the study.
Several other studies need to be conducted to further strengthen the findings of this study. For now, it shows enough information as to how one's immune system plays a huge role in one's ability to make rational decisions that any given moment.
The paper was published in the journal Science
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