Brain Games Facts: Risk

Video highlights from Brain Games


•    Research has shown that teenagers perceive and process risk differently than adults. When risk is known, they tend to overestimate it, yet they are more likely to engage in activities that have unknown risks, where adults may be more hesitant in those situations.

•    The part of the brain that deals with analyzing risk is called the neocortex. It is extremely complex, and exists solely in mammals. This more modern, advanced analytical system can often contradict with our more primitive part of the brain that assesses risk: the amygdala.  

•    Many CEOs and successful businesspeople credit their success to risk-taking, and overcoming a fear of failure.  

•    Risk-taking behavior may be linked to a very different characteristic – boredom. Studies have shown that people who report being regularly bored may be more prone to taking risks, but unfortunately these risks may include indulging in drugs or alcohol.

•    Studies have shown that stockbrokers may have a psychological profile that is more prone to risk-taking than that of psychopaths.

•    MRI scans have shown that the brain responds to an expectation of an experience in the same way that it responds to an experience that’s already happened – a factor that may encourage us to take a risk.

•    Studies have shown that people who take more risks have fewer receptors that inhibit dopamine, the brain's feel-good chemical.

•    Many people think of risk-takers as "adrenaline junkies", when in fact the neurotransmitter, adrenaline, is meant to help us escape danger, not pursue it. When the brain detects a threat, it releases adrenaline into the bloodstream in order to help us flee or fight. This chemical rush can create a feeling of exhilaration, which the so-called "adrenaline-junkies" then may continue to seek out.

•    We all acclimate to risk over time in our day to day lives. When activities such as learning to drive a car become more familiar to us, our brains adapt to the risk and learn to manage fear.

•    Due to the hormone testosterone, and the need to compete, men may be more likely to take physical risks than women. However, women are risk takers as well, and may be more likely than men to take social risks, such as changing careers later in life.

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