ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2013, Vol. 21 ›› Issue (2): 235-242.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2013.00235

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The Mechanism of Why Self-control Resources and Cognitive Resources Influence Each Other: An Integrated Model

LI Jianbin   

  1. (Department of Psychology, School of Education, Guangzhou University, Guangzhou 510006, China)
  • Received:2012-03-10 Online:2013-02-15 Published:2013-02-15
  • Contact: LI Jianbin

Abstract: Although self-control resources and cognitive resources are considered as independent, recent research has documented that these two types of resources are mutually influencing each other. Previous study explains this phenomenon in the framework of executive control, but it fails to provide how these resources affect executive control, and leads to some neglect of the neural mechanism and the moderating variables of self-control resources depletion. To have a more systematic understanding why self-control resources and cognitive resources influence each other, the author put forward an integrated model which addresses that: (1) the major reason of why these two resources mutually influence is because they are both coordinated by a same higher psychological function (i.e. executive control) and by a same neural structure (i.e. the prefrontal cortex); (2) decreased blood glucose level, mental fatigue and declined motivation reduce the activation of prefrontal cortex; (3) lower activation of prefrontal cortex undermines the functions of executive control on subsequent self-control and cognitive tasks; (4) by increasing the endurance towards fatigue, supplementing blood glucose and triggering motive can help prefrontal cortex maintain its activation level, facilitating executive control on subsequent tasks, which finally retains subsequent self-control and high-level cognitive performances. Future study should focus on the relations of self-control resources and other information processing, verify a possible mediating model of prefrontal cortex playing between the two sequential tasks with dynamic cognitive neuroscience approaches, and investigate the neural mechanism of the moderating variables of self-control resources.

Key words: self control resources, cognitive resources, executive control, self control, mental fatigue, motivation, prefrontal cortex