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Risk aversity visible in the brain
Date:11/26/2012

or either case to occur is always the same: fifty-fifty," says Prof. Weber. "This is important so that all subjects, whether they are risk takers or not, experience risky situations inside the scanner." They were not able to assess their probability of winning their bet until they saw the first card. Here, the researchers found that in the subjects who tended to avoid risks, two specific regions of the brain were activated more strongly than in those who were willing to take risks. These areas are the ventral striatum and the insular cortex. The ventral striatum reacts both to the probability of winning, as well as to how well an individual can predict the outcome of the bet. The insular cortex is particularly sensitive to the risk a situation carries, and for whether it is higher or lower than anticipated.

Risk seekers adjust their strategy after lucky streaks

Sarah Rudorf summarized the results, "Individuals in whom these regions of the brain are activated at a higher level seem to perceive risks more clearly and assess them as more negative than those who are willing to take risks." Risk-averse individuals seem to overestimate the consequences of risk, and they did not distinguish as clearly between situations that turned out to be more or less risky than expected. In contrast, the test subjects who tended to take greater risks also focused their behavior more towards the wins and losses, and more clearly changed their strategy after negative situations.

Study is first to show the neurobiological mechanisms

"This study is the first to show the neurobiological mechanisms of how individual risk preferences determine risk perception," says Prof. Weber. "This also has effects on behavior in the areas of finance and health."

In a next step, the researchers want to study the consequences these results have on economic decisions such as in the stock market. "This might even allow improving the advising process for
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Contact: Bernd Weber
bernd.weber@ukb.uni-bonn.de
49-228-738-290
University of Bonn
Source:Eurekalert

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