We’ve all experienced it: Faced with a tough decision, we let stress get the better of us and make a poor choice.
Scientist at the University of Pittsburgh have zeroed in on why that might happen. They determined that anxiety disengages a region of the brain called the prefrontal cortex (PFC). The PFC is vital for flexible decision-making. Based on trials with anxious rats, the Pittsburgh researchers made two observation. First, anxiety has a negative effect on decision-making when conflicting distractors are present. Second, bad decisions made during a time of anxiety involve a numbing of neurons in the PFC.
So it’s more than just a “feeling”of stress that affects decision-making: it’s and actual physical change. “Anxiety disengages brain cells in a highly specialized manner,” said lead researcher Bita Moghaddam, PhD. If you’re looking for and anxiety reducer, gentle exercise can be very effective. Yoga and t’ai chi are popular options, but a brisk walk can also do the job. Adaptogenic herbs can help with stress and anxiety. Consider ashwagandha, rhodiola, or ginseng. Sipping and herbal tea is also effective. Try chamomile or lemon balm.
Source: “Just Made a Bad Decision?” University of Pittsburgh, 3//15/16