Within a part of the brain called the basal ganglia we all have two important circuits, Huberman explains. One is the “go-function,” which, as the name implies, works to propel us into action. Whether you want to pick up a glass of water or train for a triathlon, you’ll need your go-function to start. But the go-function is only half the story. We also have a mirror image “no-go function” that is responsible for inhibiting impulses. This is the part of our brain that needs to fire if we’re going to stick with that difficult project or resist that delicious cookie.
The trouble is that, as we get older, we often get fewer and fewer opportunities to exercise this no-go circuit. “We move toward the things that are important to us. We’re emailing. We’re always doing go, go, go, go.
But just because the comfort and opportunity of our modern tech-enabled lives doesn’t give us many chances to practice controlling our impulses, it doesn’t mean we can’t consciously set up a program to strengthen our no-go circuits and learn to inhibit our impulses.