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The immune system can influence your behavior

Let’s start from afar. If you were offered one hundred dollars now, or two hundred dollars next week, what would you choose? The ability to plan and take into account various factors in this matter is very important to achieve the goals. If you are doing well, then you should wait and get more next week. However, in the case when there is nothing to eat, it is worth taking the money right away. It sounds logical.

A new study published in Scientific Reports suggests that inflammation in the body, which is the immune system’s response to infection or trauma, can distort your thinking and incline to choosing an instant reward. If further research confirms this fact, it can help in understanding why some people are more impulsive, as well as for the treatment of substance abuse.

Jeffrey Gassin and his colleagues at Texas Christian University came to the conclusion that inflammation should reinforce the human desire for immediate access to resources, because the body requires additional energy, the future looks less certain. (We all begin to wonder whether we will survive, already at a temperature of 37.5).

The experiment involved 159 healthy, non-obese, young college students who for two days abstained from what may cause an acute increase in inflammation, for example, from smoking, exercise, sex, and drinking alcohol.

They underwent psychological tests for impulsivity, and after blood tests for the levels of three pro-inflammatory cytokines (proteins that indicate greater inflammation). The researchers found that participants with more active inflammatory processes have an emphasis on the present in their decision making.

Drug or other interventions aimed at reducing circulating proinflammatory cytokines in the blood are likely to be able to compensate for behavior in a more rational direction.

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