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Wednesday, 12 May 2021 08:50 GMT

Switzerland- First large-scale study links genes and brain anatomy to risk-taking behaviour


(MENAFN - Swissinfo) In a study of some 25,000 people, researchers at the University of Zurich have found that genes and brain anatomy influence whether someone is a risk-taker.



This content was published on January 30, 2021 - 15:56 January 30, 2021 - 15:56 UZH/jdp

There is widespread evidence that people can be predisposed to take risks. However, there has been less research into how a genetic disposition translates into risky behavior. The only research to date that looked at structural brain-imaging data has come from small, nonrepresentative samples of just a few hundred people.

An international team led by neuro-economists at UZH studied the genetic information and brain scans of more than 25,000 people to understand how genetic characteristics correlate with risk-taking behavior such as drinking, smoking, driving and sexual promiscuity.

The large sample allowed the researchers to control for several variables such as age, gender and other factors to reveal that there is a link between brain function and anatomy and risky behavior.

The study, which was published in Nature Human BehaviorExternal link last week, confirmed some of the areas of the brain that are expected to be associated with risky behavior. This includes the hypothalamus, where hormones such as dopamine are released, and the prefrontal cortex, which plays an important role in self-control and cognitive deliberation.

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