Genes influence decision making too

May 11th, 2009 - 3:15 pm ICT by IANS  

London, May 11 (IANS) How would you respond if you were told that you had an 80 percent chance of surviving an operation or a 20 percent chance of dying? The answer may partly depend on your genetic make-up, according to a new study.
Decision-making is a complex process, particularly when we are uncertain about outcomes. This makes decisions open to influence depending on whether the options are phrased positively or negatively, known as the “framing effect”, said the authors of the study, from University College London (UCL). The research was funded by the Wellcome Trust.

Previous research from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at UCL suggested that the amygdala, an area of the brain known to be involved in processing emotions, becomes active during decisions influenced by the framing effect.

Now, UCL researchers have shown that a person’s susceptibility to the framing effect - and the response of their amygdala - appears to be at least partially influenced by their genetic make-up, said an UCL release.

“We know that people from across a variety of cultures are susceptible to biases when making decisions, and that even with training these biases are hard to overcome,” said Jonathan Roiser from the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience.

“This implies that hard-wired genetic influences might play an important role in determining how susceptible different individuals are to the framing effect.”

These findings were published in Monday’s issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

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