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What Happens in the Amygdala… Damage to Brain’s Decision-Making Area May Encourage Dicey Gambles

Evidence that the brain’s region called the "amygdala" is at least partly responsible for fear-based loss aversion: – Ilene

What Happens in the Amygdala… Damage to Brain’s Decision-Making Area May Encourage Dicey Gambles

Image Of Thinking Man's Brain Through Bowler Hat

By Katie Moisse at Scientific American   

Imagine you’ve lost your job. You have some money saved, and a chance to double it with a gamble. But if you lose the bet, you’ll forfeit everything. What would you do?

Most people would not gamble their savings, according to Benedetto De Martino of California Institute of Technology, author of a study published February 8 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. People tend to choose avoiding losses over acquiring gains—a behavior known as loss-aversion.

But people with damage to the amygdala—an almond-shaped part of the brain involved in emotion and decision-making—are more likely to take bigger risks with smaller potential gains, De Martino’s study found. Two women with bilateral amygdala damage showed a dramatic reduction in loss aversion compared with age-matched control subjects on a series of experimental gambles, despite understanding full well the values and risks involved.

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