Parts of brain battle over decisions

September 1, 2005

Researchers have identified areas in the brain that anticipate joy and fear and say they battle it out when a big decision is to be made.

A study by Stanford University scientists Brian Knutson and Camelia Kuhnen highlighted two specific areas of the brain: the dopamine producing nucleus accumbens, which pumps when pleasure is on the horizon, and the anterior insula, which becomes active when a person gets anxious.

The scientists had 20 volunteers play a game with a cash reward, science magazine Nature reports.

When the anterior insula won the battle the participants made safe choices, the study showed. They took risks after dopamine started flowing.

University of California, San Diego, scientist Martin Paulus said the question that needs to be answered now is: When and why does one part of the brain beat the other?

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Stress gets under our skin

Related Stories

Stress gets under our skin

August 9, 2010

Everyone experiences social stress, whether it is nervousness over a job interview, difficulty meeting people at parties, or angst over giving a speech. In a new report, UCLA researchers have discovered that how your brain ...

Recommended for you

Short wavelength plasmons observed in nanotubes

July 28, 2015

The term "plasmons" might sound like something from the soon-to-be-released new Star Wars movie, but the effects of plasmons have been known about for centuries. Plasmons are collective oscillations of conduction electrons ...

New chemistry makes strong bonds weak

July 28, 2015

Researchers at Princeton have developed a new chemical reaction that breaks the strongest bond in a molecule instead of the weakest, completely reversing the norm for reactions in which bonds are evenly split to form reactive ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.