Procrastination and the Amygdala

“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”
– Abraham Lincoln

I shouldn’t have been surprised to read the results of Dr Karen Schleuter’s research “The Structural & Functional Signature of Action Control” published last month in Psychological Science. I mean, I know it’s all about the brain. But really! Laziness controlled by neuroanatomy?

Ok, I shouldn’t say “laziness”. The correct wording would be “differences in action control” or “a tendency toward procrastination.”
Procrastination is the action of delaying or postponing something. Like its synonyms “delay,” “lag,” “loiter,” “dawdle,” and “dally,” “procrastinate” means to move or act slowly so as to fall behind. It has been called “the king of self-sabotage” and “the enemy within, and is definitely not one of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

Dr Schleuter’s team asked nearly 500 healthy volunteers to rate themselves on a procrastination scale, then performed brain imaging on them. Turns out, procrastinators have enlarged amygdalas that are poorly connected to the rest of the brain while non-procrastinators have smaller, better connected amygdalas.

But here’s my question: if we know form follows function & the brain is plastic, then if we stop procrastinating, can we shrink the amygdala, & improve its connections to the rest of the brain? I betcha!

“A year from now you may wish you had started today.”
– Karen Lamb

For more information on this research, read
The Structural and Functional Signature of Action Control.
Schlüter C, et al. Psychol Sci. 2018.