Are you often losing money in gambling? Here’s why

Posted on: 11:49 AM IST Jan 09, 2016 | Updated on: 11:56 am,Jan 9,2016 IST

New York: Can’t figure out why you lose every time while playing poker with friends? Blame it on poor single-brain connection.

According to a study, people with a stronger connection between two specific brain regions have a more cautious financial outlook.

Activity in one brain region appears to indicate ‘uh oh, I might lose money’, but in another it seems to indicate ‘oh yay, I could win something’.

The researchers studied the connections between two brain regions — known as the anterior insula and nucleus accumbens — and how the two work together.

“Activity in one brain region appears to indicate ‘uh oh, I might lose money’, but in another it seems to indicate ‘oh yay, I could win something’,” said Brian Knutson, associate professor of psychology from Stanford University.

“The balance between this ‘uh oh’ and ‘oh yay’ activity differs between people and can determine the gambling decisions we make,” he added.

Using a novel MRI technique, Knutson found a tract that directly connects two brain regions.

Participants were given $10 that they could gamble or not.

Entering an MRI chamber, they could see a roulette wheel and the odds for winning or losing.

In one bet, they had equal odds to win or lose $3. In another, they had higher odds of winning a smaller amount and small odds of losing a lot or vice versa.

As the participants weighed the various gambles, the researchers tracked activity in the two brain regions.

The findings revealed that even the cautious ones with a well-insulated connection would sometimes place risky bets.

And when they did, the more cautious region stayed quieter while the enthusiastic region grew more active.

“The study helps scientists and policymakers who want to better understand risky decision-making in the context of gambling and addiction and develop more effective interventions,” noted the authors in a paper that appeared in the journal Neuron.

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