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Why It Is Important to Be Tenacious?  

Tenacity is an important success factor. Anterior mid-cingulate cortex (aMCC) of the brain contributes in being tenacious and has a role in successful aging. Because brain display remarkable plasticity in response to attitudes and life experiences, it may be possible to acquire tenacity through training. 

Tenacity is about being determined or persistent in the face of challenge to achieve the set goal. It makes one confident and determined to find a way out of hinderances and obstacles and move forward in pursuit of target. Such an attribute is an important success factor. It contributes to better academic achievement, career opportunities and health outcomes. Leaders are known to be tenacious, many of them are also known to have faced hardships in their lives.  

Studies suggest ‘tenacity’ has an organic basis in the brain and neurophysiological phenomena. It is associated with anterior mid-cingulate cortex (aMCC), a centrally located part of the brain which acts as network hub that integrates signals from different brain systems to make necessary computations for achieving goals. aMCC estimates what energy will be required to achieve goal, makes allocation of attention, encodes new information and physical movements thus contributes to goal attainment. Adequate functioning of this part of brain is necessary for tenacity1.  

Study of superagers (i.e., people in 80+ age group with the mental faculties of people decades younger) offers more insight on role of aMCC in successful aging.  

Like all organs in the body, the brain undergoes gradual structural and functional decline with age. Gradual brain atrophy, less grey matter and loss in regions of the brain associated with learning and memory are some of hallmarks of aging. However, superagers seem to defy this. Their brains age at a much slower rate than average. They have greater cortical thickness and better brain network functional connectivity in the anterior mid-cingulate cortex (aMCC) than average people in the similar age group. The aMCC in superagers’ brain is preserved and is involved in variety of functions. Superagers demonstrate higher level of tenacity when faced with challenges than other elderly2. Another study found superagers to have resilience to delirium so much so that the integrity of the anterior mid-cingulate cortex (aMCC) could well be a biomarker of resilience to delirium3

Can tenacity be acquired through training in life course?  

Brain is known to have plasticity. It forms new wirings in response to attitudes and life experiences. For example, changing mindsets (i.e. attitudes that determine how one respond to a situation in certain way) changes brain4. Similarly, compassion training is known to increase activations in a non-overlapping brain network across ventral striatum, pregenual anterior cingulate cortex and medial orbitofrontal cortex5

Tenacity is an important success factor. Anterior mid-cingulate cortex (aMCC) of the brain contributes in being tenacious and has a role in successful aging. Because brain displays remarkable plasticity in response to attitudes and life experiences, it may be possible to acquire tenacity through training. 

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References:  

  1. Touroutoglou A., et al 2020.  The tenacious brain: How the anterior mid-cingulate contributes to achieving goals. Cortex. Volume 123, February 2020, Pages 12-29. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cortex.2019.09.011  
  2. Touroutoglou A., Wong B., and Andreano J.M. 2023. What is so super about ageing? The Lancet Healthy Longevity. Volume 4, Issue 8, E358-e359, August 2023. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S2666-7568(23)00103-4 
  3. Katsumi Y., et al 2023. Structural integrity of the anterior mid-cingulate cortex contributes to resilience to delirium in SuperAging. Brain Communications, Volume 4, Issue 4, 2022, fcac163. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/braincomms/fcac163 
  4. Meylani R., 2023. Exploring the Link Between Mindset and Neuroscience-Implications for Personal Development and Cognitive Functioning.  Authorea Preprints, 2023 – techrxiv.org. https://www.techrxiv.org/doi/pdf/10.22541/au.169587731.17586157 
  5. Klimecki O.M., et al 2014. Differential pattern of functional brain plasticity after compassion and empathy training, Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, Volume 9, Issue 6, June 2014, Pages 873–879. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/scan/nst060  

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Umesh Prasad
Umesh Prasad
Science journalist | Founder editor, Scientific European magazine

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