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Scientific Article Essay

599 words - 3 pages

Scientific Article


Intro to Psychology
Risk-takers are smarter according to new study
In a recent study using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI),
images taken of the brains of young men revealed major differences in what is called
“white matter” between two separate groups of participants. The University of Turku in
Finland under the direction of SINTEF claims young men that make quick decisions in
risky situations have a highly developed neural network and are “smarter” than low risktakers.
First each participant was given a personality test to assess the risk-taking
propensity and susceptibility to peer influence. By doing this the researcher was able to
separate the 17 right-handed, 18-19 year old males into two groups, high and low risk
takers. The two groups reported to the Department of Radiology of the Turku University
Hospital for two practice sessions. During the sessions they were shows a ...view middle of the document...

risk-takers found themselves hesitating and thinking about possible outcomes and the
consequences of those decisions. Differences in the neural network or “white matter”
were discovered in the two groups as well. High risk-takers were found to have more

Scientific Article


Intro to Psychology
“superhighways” or connections across the different areas of the brain that allowed
them to make quick decisions while driving rather than those who hesitated.
The researcher believes that the young men that are risk takers and seek out
challenges are eager to experience learning; thus their brains know they have the
physical and mental skills to take on the risks. He says these brain functions promote
and contribute to the development of a robust neural network. He found that peer
competition increased the outcome-related activation of risky decisions from the
prefrontal cortex in the low risk-takers. When under peer pressure, the anticipation of a
reward for risky decisions can sometimes lead to failure during the learning process,
with tragic consequences.
I liked that the examiner used two different social situations during the same
experiment. He was able to manipulate two individual variables without them interfering
with each other. By doing this he found the differences in the neural networks of risk
takers verses the safe drivers, and the differences between the same groups under
social pressure.
I would have liked it if the researcher had done a second round of testing on
different participants or more participants. After there were seven subjects excluded
from the data because lost interest in the driving game, there were only 27 subjects to
collect data from. The participants that were once divided into two groups were
regrouped for data analysis because there was a discrepancy in the risk-taking behavior
between the questionnaire results and the actual task performance. I believe there is

Scientific Article


Intro to Psychology
more research to be done here before the researcher can claim that risk-takers are
smarter than non-risk takers.
Works Cited
SINTEF. "Risk-takers are smarter, according to a new study." ScienceDaily.
ScienceDaily, 30 November 2015. .

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