Study Says Risk-Takers Are Smarter People

Dec 04, 2015 07:30 AM EST | By Maria Leonila Masculino

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Taking huge risks involve analytical situations on how to get high rewards without getting into trouble.

The Huffington Post reports a new study has found a link between high risk-takers and a more developed brain. According to scientists at the University of Turku in Finland and the Scandinavian research organization SINTEF, high risk-takers' brains were discovered to have more "white matter"- a neural network responsible for transmitting and analyzing information effectively --- than those of low risk-takers.

For the small study, researchers looked at 34 male volunteers from age 18 to 19 as they participated in a driving simulation. The participants were instructed to get through 20 traffic lights with options to stop on a red light or finish as quickly as possible --- given the risks of getting involved in a "collision" and violating traffic rules. The participants were then given points based on the level of risk they took as they completed the exercise.

As shown in neurological scans, those who were quick to decide and have taken more chances exhibited better brain performances than those who played safe. Brain scans were conducted before and after the exercises to compare brain activities.

"All the positive brain chemicals respond under such conditions, promoting growth factors that contribute to the development of the robust neural networks that form the basis of our physical and mental skills," said study researcher and behavioral analyst Dagfinn Moe.

"The point here is that if you're going to take risks, you have to have the required skills," he explained. "And these have to be learned. Sadly, many fail during this learning process -- with tragic consequences. So this is why we're wording our findings with a Darwinian slant -- it takes brains to take risks."

The study entitled "Risk-Taking Behavior in a Computerized Driving Task: Brain Activation Correlates of Decision-Making, Outcome, and Peer Influence in Male Adolescents" was published in the journal PLOS ONE.

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