A new study demonstrates how the brain follows Ben Franklin’s famous dictum, “Take time for all things: great haste makes great waste.”
The research – conducted by Research Assistant Professor Richard Heitz and Jeffrey Schall, Ingram Professor of Neuroscience, at Vanderbilt University – has found that the brain actually switches into a special mode when pushed to make rapid decisions.
The study was published Nov. 7 in the journal Neuron.
“What this means is that identical information presented to the brain is analyzed differently under speed stress than under accuracy stress,” Schall said.
These unexpected results are controversial and important because they are at odds with currently accepted mathematical models of decision making, which are being used to understand psychiatric and neurological disorders. For example, people with certain types of brain damage seem to get stuck in a hasty, impulsive mode of deciding, and the models provide some indication for how this might happen mechanically in the brain.