Why Some People Are Adrenaline Junkies
Love to live on the edge? You're not alone, and now we may be closer to understanding why many people enjoy a kind of adventure rush.
Researchers conducted an experiment to see how the brain responds to new experiences.
Subjects were shown sets of pictures, with each image having a different chance of winning prize money. They'd pick one and then be given another group of pictures to select from.
Some pictures in the group were previous images and some were new. So subjects could pick an old picture whose value they knew or try their luck with a new one with an unknown payoff.
It was a bit like the game "Let's Make a Deal" with participants having to choose between the known and the unknown and maximize their prize money.
When researchers looked at brain scans taken during the experiment, they noticed that one particular area of the brain known as the reward center up whenever people chose new images.
That part of the brain releases chemicals, like dopamine, which make us feel good. The scientists surmised that our brains are rewarding us for trying new things.
It makes sense, considering that taking risks in life can have big pay-offs.
But sometimes, being daring can have its drawbacks. The researchers say that the same reward system can also lead to self-destructive behavior, like gambling and drug addiction.
The trick is to know when to take risksand when to play it safe.
This entry last modified on: February 4, 2013 3:06 PM
About the Video
Do you like living on the edge? Dr. Bruce Dan explains why some people like that adrenaline rush.