Harnessing the Anterior Mid-Cingulate Cortex Through Fasting: How to Increase Willpower and Become a Superager

Harnessing the Anterior Mid-Cingulate Cortex Through Fasting: How to Increase Willpower and Become a Superager


The anterior mid-cingulate cortex is often seen as the main component of Tenacity in the human brain. The ability to persist when the going gets tough and to see your task through to the end.

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The anterior mid-cingulate cortex (aMCC) is a fascinating region of the brain, nestled within the cingulate cortex. It plays a pivotal role in cognitive functions, including decision-making, emotion regulation, and especially, the exertion of willpower. The aMCC is often seen as the main component of Tenacity in the human brain. The ability to persist when the going gets tough and to see your task through to the end.

The Tenacious Brain: How the Anterior Mid-Cingulate Contributes to Achieving Goals
Tenacity--persistence in the face of challenge--has received increasing attention, particularly because it contributes to better academic achievement, career opportunities and health outcomes. We review evidence from non-human primate neuroanatomy and…

It is also a very powerful indicator if you will be a "SuperAger" or a "Cognitive Decliner" Have you ever had trouble sitting down and studying? Maybe you couldn't get yourself to pack your bag and go to the gym. Understanding and harnessing the potential of the aMCC can lead to significant improvements in various aspects of your life.

superagers and fasting effects on the anterior mid-cingulate cortex

Superagers and the aMCC

"Superagers" are a fascinating group of elderly individuals whose cognitive abilities are comparable to those decades younger than them. Research indicates that super-agers often exhibit a thicker cortex than typical older adults, particularly in the aMCC. This suggests that a well-maintained aMCC might be a key factor in retaining cognitive abilities into advanced age.

Most COMMON ways to improve the aMCC

  • Regular mental exercise
    • Obviously, meditation sort of falls under this umbrella, but meditation is so powerful that it needs to be in its own category. Mental exercises that should be categorized here are things like learning a new language, playing strategic games like chess, or doing puzzles.
  • Physical activity
    • Aerobic exercise increases blood flow to the brain, so obviously it is a key component to aMCC health. Doing hard exercises that stress the body are critical because this is where the anterior mid-cingulate cortex growth truly occurs. It's that aspect of improving your willpower. Do what is hard, and you will become a willpower machine.
  • Meditation
    • Focus and concentration exercises of mindful meditation are some of the most powerful ways to grow your aMCC and willpower in general. It improves your attention, self-regulation, and awareness.

Most POWERFUL ways to improve the aMCC

  • Fasting
    • Any form of calorie restriction is a game of willpower and powering through a low-energy state. This, on top of the autophagic benefits, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor, improves brain health.
  • Sauna
    • On top of heat-shock proteins that help clean misfolded proteins in the brain, sticking through long sauna sessions is another powerful way to increase willpower, and with it, the anterior mid-cingulate cortex health.
  • Ice Baths
    • Similar to Heat Shock, ice plunges and cold showers release cold shock proteins on top of strengthening the aMCC.
Cingulate cortex - Wikipedia

Fasting and Its Impact on the aMCC

Fasting, particularly practices like water fasting or dry fasting, has been theorized to enhance the functioning of the aMCC. Let's delve into how fasting regimens can be a catalyst for this transformation.

Dry Fasting and Willpower

Dry fasting, which involves abstaining from both food and water, is considered more time-efficient compared to water fasting. For instance, a 36-hour dry fast may equate to the benefits of a 3.5-day water fast in terms of metabolic and cognitive benefits. On top of the mental power required to not eat, you also struggle with a new sensation, dehydration. Together they synergize for the most powerful way to improve willpower and the anterior mid-cingulate cortex.

Synaptic Plasticity and Fasting

Synaptic plasticity, the ability of synapses (the connections between neurons) to strengthen or weaken over time, is crucial for learning and memory.

Fasting states are believed to enhance synaptic plasticity, which leads to improved cognitive functions. This improvement can contribute to increased natural serotonin and dopamine production, offering a potential alternative to conventional methods like SSRIs and ADHD medication for enhancing mood and mental well-being.

Think of fasting as weight lifting for the brain's ganglia.

aMCC and synaptic plasticity
Fasting induces a form of autonomic synaptic plasticity that prevents hypoglycemia - PubMed
During fasting, activation of the counter-regulatory response (CRR) prevents hypoglycemia. A major effector arm is the autonomic nervous system that controls epinephrine release from adrenal chromaffin cells and, consequently, hepatic glucose production. However, whether modulation of autonomic func …

Fasting as a 'Speed Hack' for Transformation

Fasting can be seen as a fast-track approach to achieving significant changes in brain function and emotional health. It's cost-effective, saves time, and has potential spiritual benefits. If you're like many others, you hear spiritual benefits and scoff. What you need to realize is that happiness is often based on enjoyment of life and relaxation. Your body is meant to be able to enter a heightened parasympathetic state easily whenever possible to maximize health benefits. This can't happen if you're constantly in alert mode. A spiritual practice can bring a form of a 'sigh of relief' to your system, which can be the missing piece to your health and contentment.

Animals are often seen quickly jumping from a state of sympathetic activation into the parasympathetic. Imagine a gazelle running for its life. Once the threat is terminated the animal is often seen shaking with tremors as the body aggressively tries to settle back into the parasympathetic. Be better than the gazelle, use fasting and meditation as your hack to unlock the rest-and-digest mode.

Also, by promoting increased synaptic plasticity, fasting might facilitate quicker and more profound changes in brain function compared to other interventions.

Three cingulate ROIs. Medial ROIs of the cingulate cortex in the... |  Download Scientific Diagram

Other Strategies to Boost the Anterior Mid-Cingulate Cortex

I know I've given you a lot to think about, but I don't want to leave you hanging without giving you the deepest hack for boosting your aMCC potential. Although this may be controversial, experiments are being done (similar to n=1 type of experiments) where you try to synergize 3 powerful techniques that when done together have the potential to catapult you forward at an alarming rate. Mix short dry fasts, finishing up in the sauna with deep meditation. Sometimes deep meditation can be achieved through the shortcut of using psilocybin responsibly. You can look at my Enlightenment Protocol for more tips. I leave this information in your hands and look forward to any future insights you may provide. Good luck.

Final Note

Harnessing the potential of the anterior mid-cingulate cortex through practices like fasting presents an intriguing avenue for personal development. It suggests a symbiotic relationship between physical health practices and cognitive-emotional well-being. While the science behind these connections continues to evolve, the preliminary evidence points toward a promising synergy between fasting, synaptic plasticity, and the enhancement of key brain regions like the aMCC. As always, any significant lifestyle change, especially fasting, should be approached with caution and ideally under the guidance of healthcare professionals.

Yannick Wolfe

15 Years of Fasting Experience, Ex-ME/CFS, Ex-Long covid. Tech Consultant, Molecular biologist, Father, Researcher, Experimenter.

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