Navigation Links
To bet or not to bet: How the brain learns to estimate risk

This release is available in French.

Researchers from EPFL and Caltech have made an important neurobiological discovery of how humans learn to predict risk. The research, appearing in the March 12 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, will shed light on why certain kinds of risk, notably financial risk, are often underestimated, and whether abnormal behavior such as addiction (e.g. to gambling or drugs) could be caused by an erroneous evaluation of risk.

Planning entails making predictions. In an uncertain environment, however, our predictions often don't pan out. And erroneous prediction of risk often leads to unusual behaviour: euphoria or excessive gambling when risk is underestimated, and panic attacks or depression when we predict that things are riskier than they really are. To understand these anomalous reactions to uncertain situations, we need to look to the neurobiological mechanisms that underlie how we learn to predict risk. Surprisingly little research has been done in this topic, and we do not yet know precisely how the brain is involved in our estimation of risk.

Using functional imaging in a simple gambling task in which risk was constantly changed, the researchers discovered that an early activation of the anterior insula of the brain was associated with mistakes in predicting risk. The time course of the activation also indicated a role in rapid updating, suggesting that this area is involved in how we learn to modify our risk predictions. The finding was particularly interesting, notes lead author and EPFL professor Peter Bossaerts, because the anterior insula is the locus of where we integrate and process emotions.

"This represents an important advance in our understanding of the neurological underpinnings of risk, in analogy with an earlier discovery of a signal for forecast error in the dopaminergic system," says Bossaerts, "and indicates that we need to update our understanding of the neural basis of reward anticipation in uncertain conditions to include risk assessment."

Contrary to what Descartes held dear, the finding that risk prediction and processing of emotions are related suggests that emotions may be intimately involved in rational decision making -- they may help us to correctly assess risk in an uncertain world.


Contact: Peter Bossaerts
Ecole Polytechnique Fdrale de Lausanne

Related medicine news :

1. Post brain injury: New nerve cells originate from neural stem cells
2. Which came first, social dominance or big brains? Wasps may tell
3. Chicago neuroscientist contributes to book on brains and baseball
4. Peregrine Pharmaceuticals Announces Positive Data From Cotara(R) Brain Cancer Trials
5. Injection of human umbilical cord blood helps the aging brain
6. Brain Disease Causes More Vision Loss in Blacks
7. Potential Brain Cancer Drug for Children May Damage Bones
8. Potential brain cancer drug for children may damage bones
9. New Drug for Brain Cancer Too Dangerous for Pediatric Patients
10. Pain in fibromyalgia is linked to changes in brain molecule
11. National Museum of Health and Medicine hosts Brain Awareness Week 2008
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/25/2016)... City, Oklahoma (PRWEB) , ... June 25, 2016 ... ... helping both athletes and non-athletes recover from injury. Recently, he has implemented orthobiologic ... the Oklahoma City area —Johnson is one of the first doctors to perform ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... Canada (PRWEB) , ... June 25, 2016 , ... Conventional ... pursuit of success. In terms of the latter, setting the bar too high can ... risk more than just slow progress toward their goal. , Research from ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... Marne, Michigan (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... To deal with these feelings, many turn to unhealthy avenues, such as drug or ... Center of Marne, Michigan, has released tools for healthy coping following a traumatic event. ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Marcy was in a crisis. Her son James, eight, ... at his family verbally and physically. , “When something upset him, he couldn’t control his ... it. He would throw rocks at my other children and say he was going to ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Global law firm Greenberg Traurig, P.A. announced that 20 Florida ... their peers for this recognition are considered among the top 2 percent of lawyers ... as members of this year’s Legal Elite Hall of Fame: Miami Shareholders Mark ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... -- In a startling report released today, National Safety Council ... comprehensive, proven plan to eliminate prescription opioid overdoses. Prescription ... are tackling the worst drug crisis in recorded U.S. history, assigned ... Kentucky , New Mexico , ... 28 failing states, three – Michigan , ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Bracket , a leading clinical trial technology ... outcomes platform, Bracket eCOA (SM) 6.0, at the 52 ... 30, 2016 in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania.  A ... product of its kind to fully integrate with RTSM, will ... 6.0 is a flexible platform for electronic clinical outcomes assessments ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016  Guerbet announced today ... Inc.,s Supplier Horizon Award . One ... Guerbet was recognized for its support of Premier members ... through clinical excellence, and commitment to lower costs. ... receive this recognition of our outstanding customer service from ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: