Emory University recently received over 150 awards totaling more than $53 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus-funding from several different institutes within the National Institutes of Health (NIH). These awards will support meritorious research projects, administrative supplements for ongoing projects, faculty recruitment, training programs, student research experiences and the creation of new jobs. Detailed below is one of the research projects supported by ARRA funds.
Dr. Greg Berns
Gregory Berns and his colleagues have been using brain imaging to study decision making and risk taking behavior. Recently their studies in adolescents showed that risk taking is actually associated with a more mature-appearing brain, as judged by subjects' white matter. This observation goes against the idea that impulsive behavior comes from adolescents' less well-developed brains. Berns has also studied financial decision making and how people process advice they get from experts.
Now he is turning his attention to balancing gains against losses, in a particularly potent situation. When a drug addict is struggling against his cravings, he is also balancing potential "gains" (pleasure) versus "loss" (consequences). Berns' stimulus-funded project will use brain imaging to attempt to answer the question: is there one part of the brain that compares gains and losses, or several that compute gains and losses separately?
Brain Imaging and Decision-Making video
Growing Up: The Teenage Brain video
Society's Changing Definition of Adulthood video
These video clips are courtesy of Emory University. Reposted with permission.