Wow, another study in The Annals of the Incrediby Obvious has appeared in Science. Why do I think it's time for me to give up and go home, you ask??
People More Cautious Than Reckless When GamblingTom SM, Fox CR, Trepel C, Poldrack RA. The Neural Basis of Loss Aversion in Decision-Making Under Risk. Science 315: 515-518.
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The study, detailed in the Jan. 26 issue of the journal Science, also revealed that people respond more strongly to potential losses than potential gains. Thinking about the possibility of winning money turns on some of the same areas of the brain that are activated when people take cocaine, eat chocolate or look at a beautiful face, explained study team member Russell Poldrack.
These "reward centers" of the brain that get turned on when we think about winning money get turned off when we think about losing money. [NOTE: No! You don't say!!]
"You turn down the reward areas of the brain, and you turn them down more strongly for losses than you turn them up for gains," Poldrack said.
. . .
People typically exhibit greater sensitivity to losses than to equivalent gains when making decisions. We investigated neural correlates of loss aversion while individuals decided whether to accept or reject gambles that offered a 50/50 chance of gaining or losing money. A broad set of areas (including midbrain dopaminergic regions and their targets) showed increasing activity as potential gains increased. Potential losses were represented by decreasing activity in several of these same gain-sensitive areas. Finally, individual differences in behavioral loss aversion were predicted by a measure of neural loss aversion in several regions, including the ventral striatum and prefrontal cortex.
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