We regularly experience situations where we have to exercise control over our thoughts and behaviours, such as the ability to resist an urge. Being able to exert strong self-control in these situations has been linked to aspects of mental health and well-being. Poor control can be debilitating and, for some people this is linked to obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours.
Whilst having difficulty controlling one’s thoughts and actions is very common, there are very few strategies that can help people improve this ability. Cognitive training, which can involve computerised programs requiring practicing of stopping behaviours, has shown some benefits. Similarly, physical training (i.e. physical exercise) is another potentially effective strategy. The additive effects of combing physical and cognitive training may be more effective than either one strategy alone.
As such, this single-session, proof-of-principle EEG study will investigate whether cognitive training, physical training or combined cognitive and physical training can strengthen the neural processes that underpin self-control. This may have the potential to enhance control over compulsions, and potentially even to treat obsessive compulsive disorder.