In a study released this week, the Jülich Research Centre near Aachen and the University of Cologne conducted magnetic resonance imaging scans MRIs on 35 managers to test their decision-making processes.
The test participants were given word pairings, such as "teamwork" or "success," and "power" or "loyalty," and told to choose a word.
In all, the participants made 540 decisions within 22 minutes. The number of decisions and the tight timeframe were meant to simulate managers' daily challenges, said Svenja Caspers, neuroscientist at the Jülich Research Centre.
The findings were compared with those of a control group comprised of people the same age, intelligence level and gender of the managers' group.
The results showed that the managers activated an area of the brain which suggested they made quick decisions based on experience.
The control group of non-managers, on the other hand, used different neural networks for tiered problem solving which took longer.
The findings of the study have recently been published in the peer-reviewed journal "PLoS ONE."