With all of the Occupy Wall Street talk about division of wealth and the continued concerns about the world economy, it might seem like a good time to start depositing more money in a savings account… but for many, saving that money for a rainy day is a very difficult challenge. You came here for good news though, right? Recent studies have been revealing parts of the brain that encourage some of us to be better savers than others, and now a new technology might be able to bring out the rational money saver in all of us.
In the 1960s there was a series of studies done with children that set them in a room alone. On a table in front of the child sat a marshmallow. When the adult would walk out of the room would tell the child that upon their return, the child would receive two marshmallows instead of one, as long as they did not eat the first one sitting on the table. Some call it an experiment, the children would likely call it torture, but whatever your view, some could wait for the bigger payoff and others just ate away.
With new technology, scientists have been able to pinpoint the exact centers of the brain that allow some to wait for a bigger payoff and others to keep spending even when they know they are broke, or more simply put, the moneybrain. In fact, the children in these original tests have been retested many times since then and the two marshmallow kids have been more successful on many fronts from SAT scores to career success. Conversely, the children who did not wait had higher rates of drug addiction, divorce and obesity.
So are the instant gratifiers doomed? A new technology called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation actually allows parts of the brain to be temporarily shut down using blasts of electromagnetic stimulation, and is showing promise to help people with their moneybrain problems. It has been used to treat depression, addiction and more. With promising results, this may be the answer for those wishing they could go to the mall and just say no. The studies have shown that when they shut down the more impulsive part of the brain, people actually choose to wait for a bigger payoff more often than they normally would. Watch out though, department stores could get ahold of this to shut up the little conservative angel in our brains and next thing you know we are all buying $600 pairs of jeans on credit!