Brain scientists discover why adventure feels good

LONDON Thu Jun 26, 2008 12:06am IST

Skydiver Magnus Svensson of Sweden leaps from the 73rd floor of the world's tallest building, the Petronas Twin Towers during the Malaysia International Extreme Skydiving Championship in Kuala Lumpur in this August 29, 2001 file photo. REUTERS/Zainal Abd Halim

Skydiver Magnus Svensson of Sweden leaps from the 73rd floor of the world's tallest building, the Petronas Twin Towers during the Malaysia International Extreme Skydiving Championship in Kuala Lumpur in this August 29, 2001 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Zainal Abd Halim

Related Topics

LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists have identified a primitive area of the brain that makes us adventurous -- a finding which may help explain why people routinely fall for "new" products when shopping.

Using brain scans to measure blood flow, British researchers discovered that a brain region known as the ventral striatum was more active when subjects chose unusual objects in controlled tests.

The ventral striatum is involved in processing rewards in the brain through the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine.

Scientists believe the existence of this age-old reward mechanism indicates there is an evolutionary advantage in sampling the unknown.

"Seeking new and unfamiliar experiences is a fundamental behavioral tendency in humans and animals. It makes sense to try new options as they may prove advantageous in the long run," said Bianca Wittmann of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London.

Being daring, however, also carries risks. Some choices could be dangerous and, in the modern world, selecting the new may, for instance, make consumers susceptible to marketing hype.

The positive feedback system in the brain could also contribute to some common vices.

"In humans, increased novelty-seeking may play a role in gambling and drug addiction, both of which are mediated by malfunctions in dopamine release," said Nathaniel Daw, now at New York University, who also worked on the study.

The findings were published online in the journal Neuron.

FILED UNDER:
Photo

After wave of QE, onus shifts to leaders to boost economy

DAVOS, Switzerland - Central banks have done their best to rescue the world economy by printing money and politicians must now act fast to enact structural reforms and pro-investment policies to boost growth, central bankers said on Saturday.

Reuters Showcase

Climate Change

Climate Change

U.S.-China climate deal does not put pressure on India, says Modi  Full Article 

Bangladesh Politics

Bangladesh Politics

Bangladesh charges opposition chief with instigating attack on bus  Full Article 

Ukraine Crisis

Ukraine Crisis

Rebels press Ukraine offensive, Obama promises steps against Russian-backed "aggression"  Full Article 

Australian Open

Australian Open

Sweet revenge for Murray as old guard hold firm   Full Article 

Box Office

Box Office

Eastwood's "American Sniper" continues as U.S. box office juggernaut   Full Article 

Boko Haram Fight

Boko Haram Fight

Nigeria repels suspected Boko Haram attack on Maiduguri city  Full Article 

Movie Review

Movie Review

Dolly ki Doli is a breezy watch, writes Shilpa Jamkhandikar.  Full Article | Related Story 

Akshay Kumar's Latest

Akshay Kumar's Latest

"Baby" is a smartly written, well-acted film  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage