Tag Archives: brain scans

The bit of your brain that signals how bad things could be

An evolutionarily ancient and tiny part of the brain tracks expectations about nasty events, finds new UCL research funded by the Medical Research Council.

The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, demonstrates for the first time that the human habenula, half the size of a pea, tracks predictions about negative events, like painful electric shocks, suggesting a role in learning from bad experiences. (more…)

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Brain Scans Show We Take Risks Because We Can’t Stop Ourselves

AUSTIN, Texas — A new study correlating brain activity with how people make decisions suggests that when individuals engage in risky behavior, such as drunk driving or unsafe sex, it’s probably not because their brains’ desire systems are too active, but because their self-control systems are not active enough.

This might have implications for how health experts treat mental illness and addiction or how the legal system assesses a criminal’s likelihood of committing another crime. (more…)

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When People Worry About Math, the Brain Feels the Pain

Mathematics anxiety can prompt a response in the brain similar to when a person experiences physical pain, according to new research at the University of Chicago.

Using brain scans, scholars determined that the brain areas active when highly math-anxious people prepare to do math overlap with the same brain areas that register the threat of bodily harm—and in some cases, physical pain. (more…)

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Following the Crowd: Brain Images Offer Clues to How and Why We Conform

What is conformity? A true adoption of what other people think—or a guise to avoid social rejection? Scientists have been vexed sorting the two out, even when they’ve questioned people in private.

Now three Harvard University psychological scientists have used brain scans to show what happens when we take others’ opinions to heart: We take them “to brain”—specifically, to the orbitofrontal cortex and nucleus accumbens. These regions compute what we value and feel rewarded by, both primitive things like water and food and socially meaningful things like money. (more…)

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Resolved to Quit Smoking? Brain Scans Predict Likely Success

ANN ARBOR, Mich.— Brain scans showing neural reactions to pro-health messages can predict if you’ll keep that resolution to quit smoking more accurately than you yourself can. That’s according to a new study forthcoming in Health Psychology, a peer-reviewed journal.

“We targeted smokers who were already taking action to quit,” said Emily Falk, the lead author of the study and director of the Communication Neuroscience Laboratory at the U-M Institute for Social Research and Department of Communication Studies. “And we found that neural activity can predict behavior change, above and beyond people’s own assessment of how likely they are to succeed. (more…)

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