Houston Scientists Study Brain Trust Relationship
By Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson
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Houston scientists have new data on how the brain registers trust
between people. The local study tracks the brain's physical responses
Trust involves risk. One person has to decide whether to trust
another person based on what they know and perceive, and sometimes the
trust instinct is wrong. Dr. Read Montague is the director of the
Neuro-Imaging Lab at Baylor College of Medicine. His lab is conducting
a study that tracks the flow of blood to a region of the brain that
signals trust. Test subjects play a game in which they are given money
to invest and share with one another, and their levels of trust are
monitored as they invest increasingly large amounts of money. Montague
says the subjects' brains are scanned simultaneously to compare the
brain activity with the physical interaction.
Tracking trust in the brain could have potential impact on marketing
and economics, and provide better understanding of social interactions
and norms. But Montague says he's more interested in the clinical
implications for people who suffer from mental illnesses.
Montague is expanding his study to include subjects in Germany and
China because he wants to see how trust is displayed in and between
other cultures. Test subjects in the Houston area are still needed,
especially professional athletes.
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