Risk appetite is defined by the amount of gray matter

Risk taking decreases with age, but that would have nothing to do with wisdom. A study published very recently assures us that this is a decrease that occurs following a modification of the anatomy of the nervous system.

When we get older, we have much less of a taste for risk that generally characterizes youth. We usually attribute this decline to the wisdom that one acquires as one ages. However, a study published in the scientific journal Nature Communications on December 13, 2016 tends to confirm something completely different.

Neurology researchers at Yale University (United States) have observed a specific area of ​​the brain in young patients: the posterior parietal cortex. They discovered that when there is a large amount of gray matter in this area, the individual’s taste for risk is more pronounced.

However, aging results, among other things, in a decrease in the gray matter contained in the posterior parietal cortex, which would therefore explain a decrease in the willingness to take risks in people getting older.

The study was based on psychological tests whose methodology is as follows: 52 adults aged 18 to 88 were asked to make choices involving possible risk-taking. They were asked to choose between a solution that earns $5 for sure or to nominate an option that earns more, but is more uncertain.

The preference for the assured gain would increase with age according to the test results and after the integration of these data in a mathematical model, the variable explaining this change was not the age, but rather the quantity of gray matter in the posterior parietal cortex. Scientists believe that it is necessary to continue research in order to better understand this phenomenon and to define more precisely the changes that occur at the level of the nervous system.

Sources: Le Nouvelliste — La Dépêche

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