The sought-after equanimity of “living in the moment” may be impossible, according to neuroscientists who’ve pinpointed a brain area responsible for using past decisions and outcomes to guide future behavior. The study, based on research conducted at the University of Pittsburgh and published today in the professional journal Neuron, is the first of its kind to analyze signals associated with metacognition—a person’s ability to monitor and control cognition (a term cleverly described by researchers as “thinking about thinking.”)

“The brain has to keep track of decisions and the outcomes they produce,” said Marc Sommer, who did his research for the study as a University of Pittsburgh neuroscience faculty member and is now on the faculty at Duke University. “You need that continuity of thought,” Sommer continued. “We are constantly keeping decisions in mind as we move through life, thinking about other things. We guessed it was analogous to working memory, which would point toward the prefrontal cortex.”

via Why living in the moment is impossible: Study finds decision-making memories stored in mysterious brain area.