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Dr. Gary Small, M.D.

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Gary Small, M.D., is Chair of Psychiatry at Hackensack University Medical Center, and Physician in Chief for Behavioral Health Services at Hackensack Meridian Health, New Jersey’s largest, most comprehensive and integrated healthcare network. Dr. Small has often appeared on the TODAY show, Good Morning America, and CNN and is co-author (with his wife Gigi Vorgan) of 10 popular books, including New York Times bestseller, “The Memory Bible,” “The Small Guide to Anxiety,” and “The Small Guide to Alzheimer’s Disease.”

Tags: choice | frontal lobe | dopamine | dr. small

The Neuroscience of Choice

Dr. Small By Monday, 21 December 2020 04:18 PM EST Current | Bio | Archive

The ability to make choices shows that options are under our personal control. However, it can be difficult to make choices that break habits, both good and bad.

This is because the neural circuitry controlling these habits have strengthened over time. Specific brain regions are involved in making everyday decisions.

A region in the frontal lobe (often referred to as the “thinking brain”) helps regulate choices. This area, called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, may help us decide whether or not to smoke a cigarette or order another glass of wine when we’re already feeling tipsy.

Functional MRI studies have demonstrated elevated activity in this region when an individual is attempting to control more primitive impulses — such as overeating or inappropriate sexual urges — that stem from the brain’s dopamine circuits, which are involved in cravings and rewards.

Another area involved in decision-making is a structure deep within the brain called the striatum. And this brain area has several subregions that are involved in adaptive options, routine choices, and motivations.

Each of these subregions has a distinct role, but when we make decisions, they usually work together. Research has indicated that meditation can facilitate decision-making that is controlled by these different brain regions.

Regular mindfulness meditation has been shown to counteract instinctive and deep-rooted tendencies, leading to better decisions. But even brief, 15-minute meditation sessions lead to more rational decision-making and better outcomes.

The bottom line is that the next time you are struggling with making a decision, try taking a moment to relax and practice mindful meditation. It may make your decision easier.

© 2023 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.

The ability to make choices shows that options are under our personal control. However, it can be difficult to make choices that break habits, both good and bad.
choice, frontal lobe, dopamine, dr. small
Monday, 21 December 2020 04:18 PM
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