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High Levels Of Reward Chemical Dopamine Favour Adventurous Choices

by VR Sreeraman on  August 2, 2009 at 1:55 PM Research News   - G J E 4
 High Levels Of Reward Chemical Dopamine Favour Adventurous Choices
If you are among those who love to try a new dish in a restaurant rather than going for the tried and tested one, then the level of the reward chemical dopamine you have in a brain region are probably high, according to a study.
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A gene, called COMT, codes for an enzyme that breaks down dopamine in the prefrontal cortex.

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People with a less efficient version of COMT have more dopamine in this region, and this makes them good at storing multiple ideas in the short term.

In order to determine whether COMT affects decision-making too, Michael Frank and colleagues at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, asked volunteers to stop a stop-clock hundreds of times in exchange for points.

They observed that sometimes stopping it early garnered most points, while at other times a late response did best.

That forced volunteers to keep changing their strategies, reports New Scientist magazine.

Those with the inefficient version of COMT were more likely than people with the active version to switch strategies to try to do even better

The team concluded that high levels of dopamine in the prefrontal cortex make people more adventurous, even when the status quo is fine.

The study has been published in Nature Neuroscience.

Source: ANI
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