People make worse decisions when in a heightened state of “arousal”—a racing heart, jumping blood pressure, and shallower breaths, often as a result of anxiety, addiction, or another disorder. But why? Recent research shows that the decision-making centers of the brain include neurons whose job is to monitor what is happening inside the body. When we are in too high a state of arousal, more neurons are recruited to monitor the body, essentially hijacking the ability to make good decisions.

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