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The Perils of "Afternoon Brain"

Updated: Nov 3, 2022

Want to preserve your ability to make more thoughtful decisions? Give your brain a break.

Sounds pretty intuitive, right? Research published in August sheds light on the neuroscience of why, when your thinking mind has been hard at work for several hours, you’re more likely to make impulsive decisions.

A new study provides evidence that after 6.5 hours of mentally challenging tasks, there is a decrease in brain activity in the lateral prefrontal cortex, which impacts self-control ability. This fatigue is associated with a shift toward preferring short-delay and little-effort options.1,2

The average full-time employee in the U.S. spends 8.53 hours per day working.3 That means toward the end of a demanding work day, you’re more likely to make decisions that yield immediate gratification.

Mindfulness meditation has been shown to “induce neurochemical changes in regions of the self-control networks.”4

Our YouTube channel offers 10-minute meditation you might use in the afternoon as part of a brain break. The quality of your work might depend on it.


1. PNAS, June 6, 2016. Blain, B, et. al.

2. Current Biology, Volume 32, Issue 16, August, 2022. Wiehler, A, et. al.

4. “Brief mindfulness training increased glutamate metabolism in the anterior cingulate cortex,” November, 2020. Tang, Y, et. al.


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