Entrepreneurial Brains Are Wired Differently: Scientists Reveal Neural Secrets Behind Business Success

Lightbulb Brain Creativity

A new study revealed increased neuronal connectivity in the brains of serial entrepreneurs compared to managers, suggesting these entrepreneurs have superior cognitive flexibility, essential for their success. The findings, using an innovative resting-state fMRI method offer insights for enhancing entrepreneurial cognition and training within organizations.

New pioneering research involving both serial entrepreneurs and managers revealed enhanced neural connections in the brains of entrepreneurs, potentially leading to distinct cognitive attributes.

A pioneering study conducted by a multidisciplinary team from the HEC – School of Management at the University of Liège and Liège University Hospital (CHU Liège), encompassing both entrepreneurship researchers and neuroscientists, discovered evidence that entrepreneurs possess increased neuronal connectivity in the brains of entrepreneurs, which may contribute to distinct cognitive attributes.

Using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI), the study showed that serial entrepreneurs have higher connectivity between the right insula (associated with cognitive flexibility) and the anterior prefrontal cortex (a key region for exploratory choices), compared to their fellow managers. These results, published in the journal Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, suggest that serial entrepreneurs possess greater cognitive flexibility, enabling them to alternate effectively between exploration and exploitation, a balance that is crucial to their success.

Entrepreneurs and Managers Brain

The differences between the brains of serial entrepreneurs and managers, as established at the end of the multidisciplinary study conducted by HEC Liège – School of Management of the University of Liège and the Centre du Cerveau of the CHU of Liège. Credit: Adeline Deward, www.illuminesciences.be

Unlike the traditional fMRI approach based on tasks submitted to the subject, the rs-fMRI on which this study is based observes the brain at rest, in the absence of cognitive tasks or presentation of stimuli, which constitutes an innovative approach to improving understanding of the entrepreneurial mind. Forty people, entrepreneurs and managers, took part in the study.

“This study represents an important advance in our understanding of the entrepreneurial mind. It highlights the potential of neuroscience and how this approach complements the traditional tools used to study entrepreneurial cognition. By highlighting the difference in cognitive flexibility, it also offers a new perspective to inform the design of training or professional development programs aimed at improving the cognitive flexibility and entrepreneurial spirit of individuals within various organizations,” explains Frédéric Ooms, researcher and Assistant Professor in management and entrepreneurship (HEC – ULiège School of Management), first author of the publication, based on the results of his Ph.D. thesis on entrepreneurial cognitive flexibility presented in April 2023.

“In a world of rapid and unpredictable change, organizations need to cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset and foster cognitive flexibility within their teams, qualities recognized by the OECD as a 21st-century challenge,” points out Professor Bernard Surlemont, Professor of Entrepreneurship at ULiège (HEC Liège).

“This collaborative, multidisciplinary study illustrates ‘neuro-entrepreneurship’, the integration of knowledge in neuroscience (at the ULiège GIGA and the CHU of Liège) and the world of entrepreneurship (HEC Liège), and shows how neuroimaging techniques help to better visualize the neural networks involved in ‘cognitive flexibility’, in order to be able to adapt to a constantly changing reality, which is the source of entrepreneurial success,” notes Dr. Steven Laureys, neurologist and Clinical Professor at the Centre du Cerveau of the University Hospital (CHU) of Liège, Research Director at the Fund for Scientific Research – FNRS and Visiting Professor at the CERVO Research Centre (Laval, Quebec).

Reference: “Advancing (Neuro)Entrepreneurship Cognition Research Through Resting-State fMRI: A Methodological Brief” by Frédéric Ooms, Jitka Annen, Rajanikant Panda, Paul Meunier, Luaba Tshibanda, Steven Laureys, Jeffrey M. Pollack and Bernard Surlemont, 8 May 2023, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice.
DOI: 10.1177/10422587231170217

6 Comments on "Entrepreneurial Brains Are Wired Differently: Scientists Reveal Neural Secrets Behind Business Success"

  1. Smells like a whole pile of cow manure in here.

  2. Mind consists of instincts and memetic programming. We gain intellectual maturity only by changing our memetic programming.

  3. Psycopathy more like.

  4. And if they keep hording all of their money and treating actual human beings like shut. we may end up finding out that they are tastier than the average person.

  5. When you ignorants learn…. When you doing something over and over again you obviously develop neural conntections. BTW study of 40 people is not a study, it is a joke.

  6. George in San Francisco | August 27, 2023 at 5:21 pm | Reply

    Or Find Another Solution as we say in Entrepreneur Land. And Keep Moving Forward until something stops you.

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