As we say when we feel happy there are some biological explanation of some feelings like happiness and sadness as they explain here.

So I say whatever we feel can be explained in biological way, so what about when one feel lazy? In the way that he/she is having no motivation (not due to lack of energy). Is there any biological explanation of someone being lazy like no motivation to do anything and that remain for long time say months.

PS: this website describes the kind of laziness I am too talking about, and I quote from this website:

I am really tired [...] my entire life. Every morning when I wake up my first thought is “I wonder when I can take a nap”. Even while I’m thinking it I realize the futility in this thought; I haven’t actually taken a “nap” in months.

  • $\begingroup$ Hi, thanks for re-posting on CogSci. It is better off here. Did you delete at Bio? Due to its recent graduation I can't see deleted posts anymore argh :-(. BTW: The link doesn't work. I slightly edited wording. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    May 24, 2015 at 9:48
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Ah please edit it as I feel I am really bad in phrasing this problem. Yes I deleted that over there and thanks for your suggestions. $\endgroup$
    – Tab
    May 24, 2015 at 11:19
  • $\begingroup$ +1 for all your edits and improvements! Sorry for all the critiques but just trying to help. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    May 24, 2015 at 11:20

2 Answers 2


Low motivation can stem from a variety of different things. A lot of it boils down to low neurotransmitter activity in areas traditionally associated with motivation. The neurotransmitter 'dopamine' plays a significant role in the regulation of pleasure, reward, and motivation. The neurotransmitter 'serotonin' is thought to regulate emotional well-being and happiness. 'Norepinephrine' is considered to be responsible for vigilance in concentration, and the locus coeruleus (the principal site for norepinephrine synthesis) is said to receive input from the orbitofrontal cortex, which is an area of the brain also involved with reward, motivation, and impulse control.

With low neurotransmitter activity comes certain behaviors and mental states that are commonly associated with specific mental disorders. Low levels of serotonin (and, henceforth, dopamine and norepinephrine, insofar as they are mediated by serotonin) can result in clinical depression. Low levels of dopamine and norepinephrine are thought to be associated with disordered attention, executive functioning, and motivation disorders, such as attention deficit disorder and sluggish cognitive tempo (SCT).

Persistent laziness can also be a learned trait. Norepinephrine also seems to be closely involved with the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), which plays a role in the control of certain autonomic functions such as heart rate. Norepinephrine also seems to be somewhat involved with urgency (fight-or-flight), and is thought to be activated in times of physiological stress. From a social standpoint, if there is no social pressure to work, then the activation of norepinephrine needn't happen. It is also worth noting that stimulation of the ACC is thought to provide relief for those suffering from major depression.

Long-term laziness implies that any some combination of the above has been occurring for a long period of time. The best way to counteract long-term laziness would be to find a happy medium between behavioral adjustment and (in more extreme cases) medical treatment.

  • $\begingroup$ I'm not sure I quite buy this explanation. Boiling persistent laziness down to NT activity ignores that the brain is connected to a body and situated in an environment. You might be able to explain more of the variance in "laziness" by describing environmental factors, rather than NT activity. $\endgroup$
    – mrt
    Feb 27, 2016 at 0:17
  • $\begingroup$ I appreciate your answer and for me it explained a lot what I wanted to know. But if I see it that a person fell under this condition(long term of having bad neurotransmitter activity the one you explained ) is it possible that he/she could pass this to the progeny? $\endgroup$
    – Tab
    Apr 4, 2016 at 7:45
  • $\begingroup$ as suicidal behavior can have a genetic basis along with environmental factors. The overall this got me curious about if such kinda bad conditions can affect the further generation. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK107191 $\endgroup$
    – Tab
    Apr 4, 2016 at 7:49

Laziness as well as lack of motivation can be attributed to chemical imbalances, biology, and patterns of human behavior.

Clinical Depression can cause a lack of motivation as well as laziness. Studies have shown that clinical depression can be due to an overall lack of certain neurotransmitters, or neurotransmitters not working correctly.

Humans also tend to have hormonal changes throughout life that can cause a lack of energy, and sense of overall well-being. This is just one of many answers of the biological reason for laziness.

The importance of routine, waking up when you don't want to, exercising, and eating correctly are all efficient patterns and habits that can prevent laziness, and a lack of motivation. If your pattern is to stay in bed, eat poorly, and neglect exercise, I believe that laziness can be attributed to your general pattern of behavior.

  • $\begingroup$ This answer seems to be mostly based on personal experience. These types of answers are discouraged CogSci.SE. Could you find some formal studies to back up your impressions? $\endgroup$
    – Seanny123
    Feb 26, 2016 at 22:29
  • $\begingroup$ I appreciate your effort @David but I am agree with Seanny that it is an outside observation I was opting for explanation in terms of brain and inside activity. $\endgroup$
    – Tab
    Apr 4, 2016 at 7:36
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you guys, next time I will take this into consideration. $\endgroup$ Apr 5, 2016 at 20:30

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