Posted by & filed under Motivation-Emotion, Neuroscience.

Description: What factors predict who will take bigger risks when gambling for money? Could it be linked to personality? And if there are links to personality is that because of early experience or perhaps due to genetic variations in risk attraction or risk aversion, perhaps related to the functioning of specific brain regions? After you have come up with your own list of factors look them over and consider this question: Are most of the factors you have come with likely stable or usually true or present? Given your response to that question how would your collection of factors and the theory that holds them together deal with significant inconsistencies in individual behavior over time – or, in other words, that sometimes people accept risky gambles and sometimes they do not? My own response to this question would be that it likely depends on the individual’s thought processes at the time and that clearer thoughts would lead to taking less risk. But what if your risk choices were also affected by very basic brain activity? Read the article linked below and/or have a look at the original research article it discussed (in the reference list further down below) to see what effects the general level of activity in the dopamine areas of the brain have on risk-taking.

Source: What Fuels Your Appetite for Taking a Gamble? Robert Preidt, Health News, US News and World Reports.

Date: September 11, 2019

Photo Credit: HealthDay, US News and World Reports

Article Link:

You may have already been aware of the suspected role of dopamine in certain forms of risk taking that involves viewing a dopamine rush as the brain-based component of a reward received in a video game or perhaps on a video lottery terminal. What the study discussed in the linked article suggests is a bit different than that. What it suggests is that the general level of brain activation (and in particular in the dopamine pathways) at any point in time may, in a small way, contribute to the level of gambling risk one is prepared to take on with lower levels of dopamine activation being associated with higher levels of gambling risk-taking. Now what we need to figure whether or not this effect is related to a sort of search for dopamine rush opportunities or whether it is another sort of effect on risk and consistency (or the lack thereof) in decision making.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How might personality be related to risk-taking?
  2. How does the level of general brain activity seem to be related to gambling risk-taking?
  3. What advantages might there be to the inconsistencies in risk-taking associated with general brain activity levels?

References (Read Further):

Chew, B., Hauser, T. U., Papoutsi, M., Magerkurth, J., Dolan, R. J., & Rutledge, R. B. (2019). Endogenous fluctuations in the dopaminergic midbrain drive behavioral choice variability. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116(37), 18732-18737.

Mayo, M. J. (2007). Games for science and engineering education. Communications of the ACM, 50(7), 30-35.

Green, C. S., & Bavelier, D. (2006). The cognitive neuroscience of video games. Digital media: Transformations in human communication, 211-223.

Weinstein, A. M. (2010). Computer and video game addiction—a comparison between game users and non-game users. The American journal of drug and alcohol abuse, 36(5), 268-276.

Steinberg, L. (2008). A social neuroscience perspective on adolescent risk-taking. Developmental review, 28(1), 78-106.

Kuhnen, C. M., & Chiao, J. Y. (2009). Genetic determinants of financial risk taking. PloS one, 4(2), e4362.

Clark, C. A., & Dagher, A. (2014). The role of dopamine in risk taking: a specific look at Parkinson’s disease and gambling. Frontiers in behavioral neuroscience, 8, 196.