Parts and functions of the brain that aids people in making decisions from a choice to play it safe or take a risk have been identified by Scientists.
The findings also provide fresh insights into how humans explore the unknown and add to a relatively new area of inquiry - neuroeconomics and the study of economic behaviour.
AdvertisementOne study suggested that the brain chemical serotonin might be involved in risky decision-making.
The researchers found that when certain serotonin receptors are blocked, people are less likely to take a gambling risk.
Other recent findings discussed show that brain cells in the orbitofrontal cortex of the monkey brain assign values to different goods.
The activity of these cells adapts to the range of values presented and is independent of the value of alternative options.
The brain circuit connecting the cortex and basal ganglia is involved in "deciding" which behaviour to pursue.
Studying this circuit yields new information about emotional decision-making and insights into certain neurological disorders, like obsessive-compulsive-spectrum disorders and addiction.
"These studies help deepen our understanding of the highly complex mechanisms involved in decision-making," said Michael Platt, PhD, of Duke University, an expert in cognitive behaviour and the brain.
"Such research is not only helping us understand how and why we make the choices we do, but it also may lead to more effective interventions for some of the many brain disorders that are characterized by poor decision-making," he added.
The research was presented at Neuroscience 2011, the Society for Neuroscience's annual meeting.