Risk-taking bias in human decision-making is encoded via a right–left brain push–pull system

During gambling, bias is often generated by internal factors, including individual preferences, past experience, or emotions, and can move a person toward or away from risky behavior. The neural mechanisms responsible for generating internal bias are largely unknown, limiting the treatment of patients with neurological diseases that impair decision-making. Members of the Johns Hopkins University laboratory of Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Dr. Sridevi Sarma, published a paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that identifies a 'push-pull' dynamic between the brain's hemispheres during high-risk betting.

Lead author Pierre Sacre and colleagues applied mathematical modeling techniques and high-resolution intracerebral recordings to uncover how a hidden internal bias builds up from past experiences to influence decisions and where this internal bias is encoded in the brain. In their study they discovered that high-frequency activity increased in the right hemisphere when participants were biased toward risky bets, while it increased in the left hemisphere when participants were biased away from risky bets. These findings provide electrophysiological evidence that risk-taking bias is a lateralized push–pull neural system governing counterintuitive and highly variable decision-making in humans. Read the full article here.

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