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Amount of Gray Matter in Brain Affects Self-Control and Decision-Making

According to a new study from the U.S. Dept. of Energy Laboratory in Brookhaven, the amount of gray matter in your brain affects its thought process and the ability to assess rewards or consequences. The study was the first of its kind to show the correlation between the brains of healthy people and the brains of those addicted to cocaine.

Muhammad Parvaz, a co-author of the study, said the study showed the importance of gray matter in the brain and how it affects the structural integrity in the prefrontal cortex when it comes to executive functioning, according to Medical News Today. Parvaz said they wanted to know what the differences mean in the two different individuals.

Scientists explored the brain volume of healthy people and cocaine users to explore the relationship of structure and function and to collect measurements for the brain by using an MRI, or imaging brain scan. The team used statistical means to check for connections in the brain activity when subjects were offered a high reward or a no-reward system to see how much the brain’s response differed with the reward offered.

The study showed that if the brain activity increased because of a higher reward as compared with no reward, it was due to the higher the volume of gray matter in that specific region.

Parvaz said the findings suggest that impaired processing regarding the reward system might be due to deficits in the structural makeup of the brain, especially when regions in the prefrontal cortex are occupied by higher order thinking and emotional functioning. The study validated the use of the MRI and its effectiveness in measuring brain structure and showing functional discrepancies.

The findings of the study are especially important for those who suffer from drug addictions because we are learning to understand the possible lack of self- control and poor decision-making that can likely occur for them.

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