ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2023, Vol. 31 ›› Issue (3): 350-359.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2023.00350

• Conceptual Framework • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The cognitive neural model of procrastination and related interventions

FENG Tingyong(), ZHANG Biying   

  1. Faculty of Psychology, Southwest University, Chongqing 400715, China
  • Received:2022-11-02 Online:2023-03-15 Published:2022-12-22
  • Contact: FENG Tingyong


Procrastination is defined as a voluntary but irrational delay of an intended course of action despite expecting to be worse off for the delay. The previous studies have indicated that chronic procrastination exists in different cultural backgrounds, which 15% to 20% adults are chronically procrastinators, and more than 70% students admit to academic procrastination, with approximately 16% of them experiencing severe procrastination problem. Procrastination not only impacts people's study, work performance, but also impairs physical and mental health. However, procrastination has complex psychological process, including at least three stages, such as evaluation, decision-making and execution. To date, the cognitive neural mechanism of procrastination behavior was still unclear with a lack of causal evidence. Therefore, based on the time decision model of procrastination and the triple neural structure network model, this project intended to build a cognitive neural model of procrastination, then using cognitive interventions and neural regulation techniques to test it. According to the cognitive neural model of procrastination, this project tried to develop precise intervention plans for procrastination.
This project was divided into three parts: (1) From the perspective of recording and association research, cognitive behavioral experiments, multimodal neuroimaging methods, such as task state, resting state, structural state, and cognitive neural computational modeling was used to construct a cognitive neural model of procrastination. In the process of building the model, we systematically investigated the corresponding cognitive components and characteristics of neural circuits in the evaluation, decision and execution stages of procrastination. (2) From the perspective of causal/quasi-causal studies, this project manipulated core competencies including episodic prospection, self-control and emotion regulation, in which to investigated the changes before and after the intervention, such as the functional connectivity of the brain network of episodic prospection, and network efficiency. This part intended to further examine and develop the cognitive neural model of procrastination behavior. (3) From the perspective of clinical application, this project developed a screening-diagnosis system for patients with clinical procrastination behavior disorder according to the psychiatric symptom diagnosis system and the criteria of psychosocial impairment. This system would be applied to distinguish patients with mild, moderate and severe procrastination. Based on this, effective intervention programs with distant migration effect for procrastination behavior disorder patients were developed, including cognitive intervention and neuroregulatory treatment strategies.
To sum up, this project has built a cognitive neural model of procrastination from the perspective of the dynamic psychological process of procrastination, and improved it through the causal manipulation of cognitive intervention and neural regulation. This study not only reaped important theoretical contribution to the exploration of the core cognitive neural mechanisms of procrastination, but also obtained practical implications for the effective prevention and precise treatments of procrastination.

Key words: procrastination, cognitive neural model, cognitive intervention, neuro-regulation

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