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Last updated 7:28PM ET
April 5, 2005
KUHF Local News Archive

Houston Scientists Study Brain Trust Relationship
By Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson

HOUSTON, TX (2005-03-31)

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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 to trust.

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.

Copyright 2005, kuhf

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