Are you feeling lazy? That’s OK – it’s just science

UBC study shows that humans are hardwired to prefer being sloth-like

Feeling lazy today? It’s OK – you’re actually hardwired to feel like that, according to a study from the University of British Columbia.

The findings, published in the October edition of Neuropsychologia, found that the struggle is real.

“Conserving energy has been essential for humans’ survival, as it allowed us to be more efficient in searching for food and shelter, competing for sexual partners and avoiding predators,” said senior study author Matthieu Boisgontier.

“The failure of public policies to counteract the pandemic of physical inactivity may be due to brain processes that have been developed and reinforced across evolution.”

READ MORE: Women underrepresented in research journals, says UBC prof

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Researchers recruited young adults for the study, put them in front of a computer and gave them the controls to an on-screen avatar.

Then, small images showing physical activity, or inactivity, flashed on the screen.

The young adults had to move their avatar as quickly as possible towards the pictures of activity and away from the pictures of inactivity, and vice versa.

By recording what was happening in their brains, researchers found that moving away from the active pictures was much harder for the subjects’ brains.

That came despite the fact that the subjects moved much faster when they moved towards the active pictures.

“The exciting novelty of our study is that it shows this faster avoidance of physical inactivity comes at a cost—and that is an increased involvement of brain resources,” Boisgontier, who is a postdoctoral researcher in UBC’s brain behaviour lab at the department of physical therapy, said.

“These results suggest that our brain is innately attracted to sedentary behaviours.”


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