Entrepreneur? You Likely Have Increased Cognitive Flexibility

A pioneering study involving entrepreneurs and managers found increased neuronal connectivity in the brains of entrepreneurs, potentially contributing to distinct cognitive attributes.

A multidisciplinary research team led by the HEC School of Management at the University of Liège and Liège University Hospital (CHU Liège) relied on entrepreneurship researchers and brain specialists and found evidence of increased neuronal connectivity in the brains of entrepreneurs, which may result in distinct cognitive attributes.

Using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI), the study shows that serial entrepreneurs have higher connectivity between the right insula (cognitive flexibility) and the anterior prefrontal cortex (a region for exploratory choices) compared to their fellow managers. The results were published in the journal Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice. The study indicates that entrepreneurs possess greater cognitive flexibility, enabling them to alternate effectively between exploration and exploitation, both crucial to their success. Forty people, entrepreneurs, and managers, took part in the study.


The study highlights the potential of neuroscience and how this approach complements the traditional tools used to study entrepreneurial cognition. It also offers a new perspective to training or professional development programs aimed at improving individuals’ cognitive flexibility and entrepreneurial spirit.

The study illustrates ‘neuro-entrepreneurship,’ the integration of knowledge in neuroscience and the world of entrepreneurship. It shows how neuroimaging techniques help to better visualize the neural networks involved in ‘cognitive flexibility to adapt to a constantly changing reality–the source of entrepreneurial success.

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