It is well-known that a lot goes on inside a gambler's mind from the moment the dice starts rolling or when the starting gates swing open at the track.
While some may play a "lucky" number that has given them positive results in the past-a strategy called reinforcement learning, others may check out the recent history of winning colors or numbers to try and decipher a pattern.
AdvertisementBetting on the belief that a certain outcome is "due" based on past events is called the gambler's fallacy.
Recently, researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and Ireland's Trinity College Dublin proposed that a certain region of the brain drives these different types of decision-making behaviors.
"Through our study, we found a difference in activity in a region of the brain called the dorsal striatum depending on whether people were choosing according to reinforcement learning or the gambler's fallacy," said John O'Doherty, professor of psychology at Caltech and adjunct professor of psychology at Trinity College Dublin.
"This finding suggests that the dorsal striatum is particularly involved in driving reinforcement-learning behaviors," he said.
In addition, the work suggests that people who choose based on the gambler's fallacy may be doing so because at the time of the choice they are not taking into account what they had previously learned or observed.
The study has been published in the Journal of Neuroscience.