A study by Stanford University researchers reveals that people who anticipate worry or problems did very well in a financial game as compared to those who do not have high levels of "anticipatory worry."
Gregory Samanez-Larkin, a psychology graduate student at Stanford, has revealed that the study's results were based on brain scans of activity in a part of the brain called 'anterior insula', which enables people to sense or monitor danger to a certain extent.
The researchers said that the subjects had "a higher fidelity when it comes to making economic decisions," when the anterior insula was more active.
"They were better at predicting what might happen," Live Science quoted Samanez-Larkin as saying.
He said that the participants learnt to avoid losses while playing the same game several months later.
"I wouldn't call it intelligence. (Instead), it's a sort of expertise," he added.
During the study, scanners measured brain activity of 23 subjects as they played a financial game. Eight to 10 months later, the subjects returned and played a similar game, although their brains were not scanned.
Samanez-Larkin and his colleagues then tried to find links between the brain scans and how the subjects performed in the games.
"We looked in the brain for readings that were active while people were anticipating losses (in the game)," Samanez-Larkin said.
In most of the studies conducted earlier, scientists have focussed more on brain areas other than anterior insula because they are easier to access and understand.
The researchers say that their work suggests that expanded knowledge about anterior insula may lead to better treatments for anxiety, and help spot people who might do a better job of handling stress.
It may even be useful in detecting people who are most likely to get too many credit cards, and fall into debt or fall victim to scams, as they are not adept at processing financial information.
"You could identify people who are susceptible to things like this and try to help them," Samanez-Larkin said.
The study appears in the journal Psychological Science.