Andrew Huberman - The Power of the Anterior Mid-Cingulate Cortex

Andrew Huberman - The Power of the Anterior Mid-Cingulate Cortex

Andrew Huberman recently said neuroscience has just made one of the most important discoveries that it has ever made. A part of the brain called the Anterior Mid-Cingulate Cortex grows in size when we do something that we don’t want to do. With that our willpower grows. But just how can we use this information to better ourselves?

What is the Anterior Mid-Cingulate Cortex?

The Anterior Mid-Cingulate Cortex is an area of the brain that is involved with emotion formation and processing, learning, and memory. It plays a role in our decision-making, risk-reward calculation, and motivation to perform certain actions.

Andrew Huberman on the Anterior Mid-Cingulate Cortex

On a recent podcast with David Goggins, neuroscientist Andrew Huberman discussed the results from recent studies on the function of the Anterior Mid-Cingulate Cortex in the brain. He stated that this part of the brain can grow when a person does something they don’t want to do. Huberman expressed the gravity of these findings proclaiming that “to me, this is one of the most important discoveries that neuroscience has ever made.”

Studies had been previously conducted on mice, but the data Huberman shared was from recent studies on humans making the findings even more impressive. The neuroscientist said, “The anterior midcingulate cortex is smaller in obese people, it gets bigger when they diet. It's larger in athletes, it's especially large or grows larger in people that see themselves as challenged and overcome some challenge.”

Anterior Mid-Cingulate Cortex & Willpower

When we perform an action or task that we don’t want to – the Anterior Mid-Cingulate grows in size. Theoretically it’s been said that when someone performs a task outside of their comfort zone they grow as a person, and they are able to take on more and more challenges. In essence, this is their willpower strengthening. This new data from recent studies is suggesting that the growth of the Anterior Mid-Cingulate Cortex is the physical representation of this theory.

David Goggins is a huge proponent of pushing the limits of the human mind and body. His accomplishments in life highlight what extreme results are possible when you push yourself beyond your perceived limits. If the studies are to be believed, David Goggins is a prime example of continued growth of the Anterior Mid-Cingulate Cortex. He compounded the strength of his willpower on a daily basis for decades.

Andrew Huberman goes as far as saying, “In people that live a very long time, this area keeps its size. In many ways, scientists are starting to think of the anterior midcingulate cortex not just as one of the seats of willpower, but perhaps actually the seat of the will to live.”

How to Grow the Anterior Mid-Cingulate Cortex

In simple terms, to grow the size of your Anterior Mid-Cingulate Cortex, and essentially your willpower, you need to perform tasks that you don’t want to on a daily basis.

This can include resisting some of your favorite high-calorie foods if you’re trying to lose bodyfat. It can include committing to working out four days a week when you prefer sitting and watching Netflix. Maybe you hate the thought of public speaking. Start by creating your first Tik Tok video, then continue to push the boundaries by going live on the platform and talking to people, then push your limits further by performing a speech at a networking event or similar. The key is to continue to push yourself daily.

Huberman states that, “The problem is it only works one day at a time. You have to renew it every day.” If you return to your comfort zone and don’t continually push your limits by performing an action that you don’t want to the Anterior-Mid Cingulate Cortex shrinks in size again. Daily progression is needed to increase the size of your willpower.

On the podcast, David Goggins made a valuable point stating that, “If you love the ice bath - "Yeah, I love the ice bath," and you go from one minute to 10 minutes, guess what? Your anterior midcingulate cortex did not grow.” That is because you are performing an action that you enjoy. We must do things we don’t want to do to grow. If you hate the thought of having an ice bath and you have one and then slowly increase the time you spend in the tub, your willpower will grow. 

David Goggins went on to say, “They need to stop hearing these life hacks and realize there's no hack. The hack is to do the hard thing, even though it sucks.”

To conclude, the part of your brain known as the Anterior Mid-Cingulate Cortex will physically grow in size along with your willpower when you do things you don’t want to do. It can also shrink in size if you go back to your comfort zone. The key to growth is to continually do things you don’t want to do on a daily basis.

Want to become the best version of yourself? Our free Improve Your Mindset Guide is the best place to start. 

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