New research from MIT neuroscientists finds that riskier decisions are made when there are impairments of a specific brain circuit.
The good news is that in tests on mice, scientists were able to bring back normal thinking patterns by manipulating this circuit. The hope is that someday something similar could help people with depression, addiction, anxiety or poor decision-making.
In the meantime, this is a something to be aware of when you're trying to make a decision about a new job or even a new work assignment and you've been under chronic stress.
Scientists say that when you're faced with options that have both positive and negative elements, you're more likely to opt for the riskier choice because the stress is affecting your brain's decision-making. You may, for example, ignore the high cost of the job (long hours) and choose the high reward (high salary) instead of the job that will offer you less pay but give you more time off.
Another cautionary note: Once the shift in thinking occurs, it can last for months.
There has been plenty written about the havoc that stress causes on your body. It can lead to physical ailments such as high blood pressure and stomach problems, not to mention sleepless nights. It can hurt your relationships on the job and at home. Now with this research, there's something else to consider about stress since it might impair your decision making.
While you're entering the sometimes frantic holiday season, thinking about whether it's time you took significant steps to reducing your stress, whether it's through exercise, taking up a fun hobby or even finding a therapist to talk about what's stressing you out. Your future career happiness may depend on it.