22 September 2014

Brain structure may predict risky financial behaviour

The structure of people's brains may reveal how likely they are to take risks involving money.


Your brain structure could help predict how willing you are to take financial risks, a new study suggests.

Parietal cortex volume linked to risky behaviour

Researchers at Yale University found those with greater volume in a part of the brain known as the parietal cortex may be more likely to engage in risky behaviour than people with less volume in this area.

Read: Do you have a money personality?

The study, funded by the U.S. National Institute on Ageing, involved two groups of young adult men and women living in the Northeast. The researchers sought to determine how brain structure influences risk taking when economics or money is involved.

The first group of 28 people made decisions about lotteries of varying levels of risk. Their brains were analysed using MRI technology. The findings, published September 10 in the Journal of Neuroscience, were confirmed in a second group of 33 people.

Read: Money tips for the 6 stages of a woman’s life

"Based on our findings, we could, in principle, use millions of existing medical brain scans to assess risk attitudes in populations," Ifat Levy, an assistant professor in comparative medicine and neurobiology at Yale School of Medicine, said in a university news release. "It could also help us explain differences in risk attitudes based in part on structural brain differences."

People take fewer risks as they age

The researchers noted, however, their findings don't establish a cause-and-effect relationship. "We don't know if structural changes lead to behavioural changes or vice versa," Levy explained.

Read: Save money, save your life

It's known that the parietal cortex thins with age, the researchers pointed out. Previous studies have shown that people become less willing to take risks as they age. The study authors said that more, larger studies are needed to expand on their research.

"It could be that this thinning explains the behavioural changes; we are now testing that possibility," said Levy.

Read more:

Avoiding money problems in relationships
Will you live longer than your money?
Gambling addiction

Image: Business man winning a lottery from Shutterstock

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