Risk-takers are smarter

November 30, 2015
Science Daily/SINTEF
Do you often take chances and yet still land on your feet? Then you probably have a well-developed brain.
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The researchers employed a driving game in which participants were awarded points according to the level of risk they were willing to take.
Credit: Image courtesy of SINTEF

This surprising discovery has been made as part of a project studying the brains of young male high and low risk-takers. The tests were carried out at the University of Turku in Finland under the direction of SINTEF, using both the Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) techniques to measure activation-related and structural correlates of risky behaviour, respectively.

The aim of the project was to investigate the decision-making processes within the brains of 34 young men aged 18 or 19. Based on psychological tests, they were divided into two groups of low and high risk-takers, respectively.

"We expected to find that young men who spend time considering what they are going to do in a given risk situation would have more highly developed neural networks in their brains than those who make quick decisions and take chances," says SINTEF researcher and behavioural analyst Dagfinn Moe. "This has been well documented in a series of studies, but our project revealed the complete opposite," he says.
 

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