Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Brain Response to Risky Decisions

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Brain Response to Risky Decisions

Article excerpt

Should you have surgery that is likely to extend your life, but poses some risk that you will not survive? Should you consider leaving a comfortable job for one that pays better, but is less secure? Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have conducted neuroscience research that offers insight into how people go about evaluating such situations.

Specifically, the research compares how our brains evaluate the possibility of gaining versus losing when making risky decisions. The findings appear in the journal Science . "Looking at how your brain responds to potential gains versus potential losses, we can predict how risk-averse you are going to be in your choices," explains study coauthor Russell Poldrack, UCLA associate professor of psychology.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The researchers conducted the study by giving participants $30. The participants were then asked whether they would agree to each of more than 250 gambles in which they had a 50/50 chance of winning an amount of money or losing another amount of money. For example, would the participants agree to a coin toss in which they could win $30, but lose $20? While the participants were considering the possible wagers, they were in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner.

For each question, the participants answered whether they would strongly agree to the gamble, weakly accept it, weakly refuse it, or strongly reject it. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.