Projekt

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Neural mechanisms of self-control depletion and its mitigation

Titel Englisch Neural mechanisms of self-control depletion and its mitigation
Gesuchsteller/in Friese Malte
Nummer 138630
Förderungsinstrument Projektförderung (Abt. I-III)
Forschungseinrichtung Fakultät für Psychologie Universität Basel
Hochschule Universität Basel - BS
Hauptdisziplin Psychologie
Beginn/Ende 01.02.2012 - 31.03.2016
Bewilligter Betrag 268'931.00
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Alle Disziplinen (2)

Disziplin
Psychologie
Neurophysiologie und Hirnforschung

Keywords (7)

self-control; self-regulation; executive control; impulses; fMRI; EEG; ego depletion

Lay Summary (Englisch)

Lead
Lay summary

The ability to exert control over dominant response tendencies such as impulses, emotions, and thoughts is crucial for living in line with personal standards and social norms. For example, it is important to (more often than not) withstand the impulse to eat tempting, but possibly unhealthy food in order to keep a healthy diet and avoid unnecessary health problems. In psychology, this ability is called self-control.

Self-control is an influential topic of research in psychology and various theoretical models try to understand the processes underlying self-control and (the conditions for) its failures. One influential model by Baumeister and colleagues (Muraven & Baumeister, 2000) postulates that self-control relies on a limited and domain-independent resource. The model assumes that any behavior requiring self-control reduces this resource, leading to a state of ‘self-control depletion’ and augmenting the likelihood of self-control failures in any further attempt at recruiting the resource. For example, according to this model, someone who had to exert control for not choosing an unhealthy desert at lunch would be more likely to react aggressively after a provocation thereafter. Both activities have little in common except that they require self-control (withstanding the temptation to eat an unhealthy desert and withstanding the urge to react aggressively after being provoked). Because the model assumes that self-control relies on a domain-independent resource, exerting control in one domain can hamper subsequent control in a quite different domain.

On the neuronal level there have been several studies investigating the neural mechanisms of successful self-control. However, there has been very little research investigating the consequences of exerted self-control for later attempts at self-control, which is at the core of the model we aim to investigate in the current project. Therefore, the neural underpinnings of self-control failure as a consequence of reduced self-control resources are largely unknown.

The major aim of the project is to examine whether and how the concepts of self-control depletion and its mitigation can be applied to the neural level using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalographical recordings (EEG). In the first part of the project we will investigate the model’s central assumption of the domain-independent resource enabling successful self-control on the neural level. Therefore we examine whether changes in brain activity after self-control exertion are truly similar across several tasks that all require self-control. In addition, we will investigate how self-control depletion affects the dynamic interplay of impulses and control. In theory, self-control depletion could strengthen impulse strength, leading to impulses that are more difficult to control than under normal circumstances. Other evidence from behavioral psychological research suggests that self-control depletion weakens the ability to control. In addition, both processes could take place at the same time: enhanced impulses and reduced ability to control. Therefore, we will investigate the influence of self-control depletion on brain areas associated with impulsive processes on one side, and on brain areas involved in exerting control and down regulating the activity of the areas involved in impulsive processing on the other side.

We seek to establish a neural pattern that is associated with self-control depletion in the first part of the project, possibly depending on characteristics of the particular tasks that will have been employed. In the second part of the project, we aim at investigating whether different interventions known to counteract self-control depletion effects on the behavioral level (e.g., motivation to perform well, praying) are capable to abolish these effects on the neural level as well. That is, what are the underlying neural processes associated with improved self-control performance brought about by, for example, an increased motivation to perform well?

The proposed studies offer a unique combination of social psychological theory and neuroscientific methodology to address concepts of the resource model of self-control that cannot be answered based on any subdiscipline alone. Our findings will substantially deepen our understanding of the strength model of self control and its metaphorical resource and will prepare the ground for more advanced interventions to improve self-control using both behavioral and neuropsychological methodology.

Direktlink auf Lay Summary Letzte Aktualisierung: 21.02.2013

Verantw. Gesuchsteller/in und weitere Gesuchstellende

Mitarbeitende

Publikationen

Publikation
Moderators of the ego depletion effect
(2016), Moderators of the ego depletion effect, 21-42.
Motivational incentives lead to a strong increase in lateral prefrontal activity after self-control exertion
(2016), Motivational incentives lead to a strong increase in lateral prefrontal activity after self-control exertion, in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 11(10), 1618-1626.
Personal prayer buffers self-control depletion
(2014), Personal prayer buffers self-control depletion, in Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 51, 56-59.
Personal prayer counteracts self-control depletion
(2014), Personal prayer counteracts self-control depletion, in Consciousness and Cognition, 29, 90-95.
Emotion suppression reduces hippocampal activity during successful memory encoding
(2012), Emotion suppression reduces hippocampal activity during successful memory encoding, in Neuroimage, 63(1), 525-532.
Suppressing emotions impairs subsequent Stroop performance and reduces prefrontal brain activation
, Suppressing emotions impairs subsequent Stroop performance and reduces prefrontal brain activation, in PLOS ONE.

Zusammenarbeit

Gruppe / Person Land
Formen der Zusammenarbeit
Esther Diekhof, Zoologisches Institut, Universität Hamburg Deutschland (Europa)
- vertiefter/weiterführender Austausch von Ansätzen, Methoden oder Resultaten
ETH and University of Zurich Schweiz (Europa)
- vertiefter/weiterführender Austausch von Ansätzen, Methoden oder Resultaten
- Publikation
- Forschungsinfrastrukturen
Veronika Job, Psychologisches Institut, Universität Zürich Schweiz (Europa)
- vertiefter/weiterführender Austausch von Ansätzen, Methoden oder Resultaten
- Publikation

Wissenschaftliche Veranstaltungen

Aktiver Beitrag

Titel Art des Beitrags Titel des Artikels oder Beitrages Datum Ort Beteiligte Personen
Invited talk at the Edmond & Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences (ELSC) Annual Retreat Vortrag im Rahmen einer Tagung Neural mechanisms of self-control exertion 24.01.2016 Kibbutz Ein Gedi, Israel Lüthi Matthias;
Invited talk at the Department of Psychology, University of Mannheim Einzelvortrag Why does self-control fail? Self-control depletion and its causes 01.11.2015 Mannheim, Deutschland Friese Malte;
Ego depletion and motivation Vortrag im Rahmen einer Tagung Paper presented at the 15th Tagung der Fachgruppe Sozialpsychologie 01.09.2015 Potsdam, Deutschland Friese Malte;
Invited keynote address at the SoDoc Workshop of the section Social Psychology of the German Association for Psychological Science, University of Münster Vortrag im Rahmen einer Tagung Why does self-control fail? Self-control depletion and its causes 01.07.2015 Münster, Deutschland Friese Malte;
Invited talk at the Association of German Psychologists, Saarbrücken Einzelvortrag Self-control – A passepartout for success in life? 01.06.2015 Saarbrücken, Deutschland Friese Malte;
Invited talk at the Department of Psychology, University of Trier Einzelvortrag Warum scheitert Selbstkontrolle? Selbstkontrollerschöpfung und ihre Ursachen 01.04.2015 Trier, Deutschland Friese Malte;
Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society Poster No effect of self-control exertion on amygdala reactivity and emotional memory 28.03.2015 San Francisco, Vereinigte Staaten von Amerika Lüthi Matthias;
Invited talk at the Consciousness & Metacognition Lab (Prof. Hakwan Lau), UCLA Einzelvortrag Studying self-control with fMRI 18.03.2015 Los Angeles, Vereinigte Staaten von Amerika Lüthi Matthias;
Paper presented at the 11th European Spring Conference on Social Psychology Vortrag im Rahmen einer Tagung Ego depletion and motivation 01.03.2015 St. Moriz, Deutschland Friese Malte;
Invited talk at the Department of Psychology, University of Utrecht Einzelvortrag Ego depletion and motivation 01.02.2015 Utrecht, Niederlande Friese Malte;
Invited talk at the Department of Psychology, University of Würzburg Einzelvortrag Selbstkontrollerschöpfung und Motivation 01.02.2015 Würzburg, Deutschland Friese Malte;
Invited talk at the 49th Congress of the German Society for Psychology Vortrag im Rahmen einer Tagung Wenn weisse Bären und Geld Selbstkontrolle beeinflussen 21.09.2014 Bochum, Deutschland Lüthi Matthias;
Self-control – A passepartout for success in life? Vortrag im Rahmen einer Tagung Invited keynote address at the summer school “Self-Regulation in a Digital World” of the Knowledge Media Research Center Tübingen 01.08.2014 Bad Teinach, Deutschland Friese Malte;
Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society Poster When white bears and money influence self-control 05.04.2014 Boston, Vereinigte Staaten von Amerika Lüthi Matthias;
Invited talk at the Faculty for Empirical Humanities, Saarland University Einzelvortrag Selbstkontrolle – Ein Passepartout für Erfolg im Leben? 01.10.2013 Saarbrücken, Deutschland Friese Malte;
ZNZ (Neuroscience Center Zurich) Symposium 2013 Poster Increased motivation counteracts depletion of self-control 13.09.2013 Zürich, Schweiz Lüthi Matthias;
39. Tagung "Psychologie und Gehirn" Poster Increased motivation counteracts depletion of self-control 30.05.2013 Würzburg, Deutschland Lüthi Matthias;
Exekutive Ressourcen: Regler zwischen Vernunft und Versuchung Einzelvortrag Invited talk at the Department of Psychology, University of Konstanz 01.01.2013 Konstanz, Deutschland Friese Malte;


Kommunikation mit der Öffentlichkeit

Kommunikation Titel Medien Ort Jahr
Medienarbeit: Printmedien, Online-Medien Konflikte zwischen Vernunft und Versuchung. Psychologische Forschung zu Selbstkontrolle und zu ihrem Konturen International 2012

Abstract

The ability of the self to control its impulses, emotions, and thoughts is crucial for living in line with personal standards and social norms. One influential model by Baumeister and colleagues (Muraven & Baumeister, 2000) postulates that self-control relies on a limited and domain-independent resource. The model assumes that any behavior requiring self-control reduces this resource, augmenting the likelihood of self-control failures in any further attempt at recruiting the resource. On the neuronal level there have been several studies investigating the neural mechanisms of successful self-control. However, since the model focuses on self-control exertion and its consequences for later attempts of self-control, the neural underpinnings of self-control failure have just recently begun to be investigated. The major aim of the project proposal is to examine whether and how the concepts of self-control depletion and its mitigation can be applied to the neural level using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalographical recordings (EEG). In the first part of the project we will investigate the model’s central assumption of the domain-independent resource enabling successful self-control on the neural level. Therefore we examine whether changes in brain activity after self-control exertion are truly similar across several tasks (independent and dependent variables) that all require self-control. In addition, we will investigate how self-control depletion affects the dynamic interplay of areas associated with impulsive, affectively-laden processes on one side, and areas involved in exerting control and down regulating the activity of the areas involved in impulsive processing on the other side. In the second part of the project, we aim at investigating whether different interventions known to counteract self-control depletion effects on the behavioral level (e.g., motivation to perform well, praying) are capable to abolish these effects on the neural level. The proposed studies offer a unique combination of social psychological theory and neuroscientific methodology to address concepts of the resource model of self-control that cannot be answered based on any subdiscipline alone. Our findings will substantially deepen our understanding of the model of self control and its metaphorical “resource” and will prepare the ground for more advanced interventions to improve self-control using both behavioral and neuropsychological methodology.
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