Research

Brainwaves reflect ability to beat built-in bias

Telltale brainwaves

Choosing an action that is counter to habit takes specific brain activity (detected as brainwaves in blue) but it can be done. The research could prove useful in treating addiction. Credit: Michael Frank and James Cavanagh/Brown University

Many animals, including humans, harbor ingrained biases to act when they can obtain rewards and to remain inactive to avoid punishment. Sometimes, however those biases can steer us wrong. A new study finds that theta brainwave activity in the prefrontal cortex predicts how well people can overcome these biases when a better choice are available.