Did you know that in the 1600s, many Puritans (English Protestants) named their daughters “Patience”  because it was and still is an amazing virtue? Patience is the ability to wait calmly in the face of frustration or adversity. Like when it’s been 30 minutes since you placed the order for your food in a restaurant and you’re hungry as hell.

Very deep inside the brain, there are like 165,000 neurons,  which is called the dorsal raphe nucleus. When this nucleus is prompted to action, the nucleus produces the neurotransmitter serotonin, which acts as a messenger to the other areas of the brain. The 2 areas which are often in communication with the dorsal raphe nucleus sit right behind our eyes. That is the medial prefrontal cortex and the orbitofrontal cortex. Together, this communication channel appears responsible for the virtue of patience.

A scientist at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology in Japan was the one who researched the relationship between serotonergic neural activity (a nerve cell that uses serotonin as its neurotransmitter) and animal behaviour. This research found a strong link between serotonin and waiting behaviour. When the dorsal raphe nucleus is stimulated, serotonin floods the system, and patience is displayed. People and animals with less serotonin generally behave very impulsively. However, this effect appears to be maximised when two features are present. Either a super high probability for a reward or uncertainty about the timing of the reward.

Now we know what’s going on in the hood when we sit through a meal knowing the finale will be a delicious Instagram-worthy dessert.

Posted by Ekya

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