Are you unable to resist that second slice of chocolate cake? Or, perhaps you are embarrassed by your readiness to give into sexual temptations?
Well, if so, you now don’t need to beat yourself up about your lack of self-control and can blame it on your brain’s wiring instead, according to a new study.
Researchers have found that the brain and genetics determines the things we crave, including food and sex, which suggests that succumbing to desires is not purely about will-power.
Participants in the study, 48 female college freshmen, were shown a variety of images including food, people drinking alcohol, sexual scenes, and animals while their brains were scanned.
Returning six months later the women were weighed and filled out a questionnaire.
It was discovered that those of the women who had reacted strongly to the food images had gained the most weight.
Similarly, the participants who reacted strongest to the sexual images were discovered to be more likely to have had sex in the previous six months and reported having higher sexual desires.
Interestingly the findings showed no overlapping between the two cravings – those who responded to pictures of food did not have stronger responses to sexual imagery, and vice versa.
Kathryn Demos, who led the study at Dartmouth College, described the reward system as ‘very powerful’ and said the idea that all people had the same capability for self-control was ‘naive’.
One of the authors of the study, Professor William Kelley, explained that the data appeared to show that the stimulation of particular regions of the brain strongly predicted or altered behavior.
Therefore those with a more heightened response to stimuli find it harder to hear their rational brain saying ‘no’, msnbc reported.
Kelley argued that the brain’s wiring is developed through experience, explaining why different women were tempted by different things, although aided by genetics.
However, the researchers said that despite the brain’s wiring people are not doomed to give into all their desires as they can undergo behavioral therapy or, more simply, by giving into healthier cravings than a slice of chocolate cake or that high risk sexual encounter.