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

Seeing quantum motion

August 28, 2015

Consider the pendulum of a grandfather clock. If you forget to wind it, you will eventually find the pendulum at rest, unmoving. However, this simple observation is only valid at the level of classical physics—the laws ...

Just how good (or bad) is the fossil record of dinosaurs?

August 28, 2015

Everyone is excited by discoveries of new dinosaurs – or indeed any new fossil species. But a key question for palaeontologists is 'just how good is the fossil record?' Do we know fifty per cent of the species of dinosaurs ...

Smart home heating and cooling

August 28, 2015

Smart temperature-control devices—such as thermostats that learn and adjust to pre-programmed temperatures—are poised to increase comfort and save energy in homes.

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.