Thinking about the possibility of winning money turns on some of the same areas of the brain that are activated when people take cocaine, eat chocolate or look at a beautiful face.
Chocolate = Cocaine = Victoria Secret Model = Winning Money…. at the neural level…
The researchers studied which parts of the brain became more active or less active as the amount of money participants could win or lose increased. “Regions that become more active as the amount increases are considered ‘reward centers’ in the brain, such as the prefrontal cortex and the ventral striatum“, Poldrack said.
The researchers also found that reward centers in the brain respond not only when we actually receive rewards but also when we make decisions about potential rewards and that when we make decisions, the reward circuitry in the brain is more sensitive to possible losses than to possible gains.
When someone begins to imagine they are winning something very desirable, the reward centers are lighting up like a Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Plaza.
The brain party has already begun to celebrate!
What happens in our brain when we think about potentially losing money? Some of the same areas that get turned on when we think about winning money get turned off when we think about losing money.
The lights on the tree are blinking on then off!
A surprising finding is that as the amount of potential loss increases, the parts of the brain that process fear or anxiety, such as the amygdala or the insula, are NOT activated.
“What we found instead,” Poldrack said, “is you don’t turn anything up. You turn down the reward areas of the brain, and you turn them down more strongly for losses than you turn them up for gains. Just as people respond more strongly to a $100 potential loss than a $100 potential gain, the brain responds more strongly to a $100 potential loss versus a $100 potential gain.”
Fox, a behavioral decision theorist, said the study confirms previous research showing that people are more turned off by losses than they are turned on by gains and it provides, for the first time, neural evidence to support this pattern.
“We found for the first time that the neural response to potential losses is larger than the neural response to potential gains,” Fox said.
What else do you know about YOU?