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  • 10/11/2011

Human brain tends to be optimistic

the frontal lobe highlighted in a brian mri

Scientists say human brain is naturally wired to have positive outlook and too much optimism leading to risky behavior might be a ”faulty”‌ brain function.

Scientists at the University College London presented 19 volunteers with a series of 80 negative life scenarios such as getting a divorce, car theft, cancer or Parkinson’s disease.

Participants were then asked to estimate the probability that this event would happen to them in the future while they were lying in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner, which measures brain activity.

Findings showed that about 80 of the studied people had positive outlook about future, even if they would not consider themselves as optimists.

The other notable finding was that people updated their estimates based on the information given just when the information was better than expected, a result showing that human’s much tendency to optimism may have a negative side.

”The more optimistic we are, the less likely we are to be influenced by negative information about the future,”‌ said co-author Tali Sharot. ”This can have benefits for our mental health, but there are obvious downsides.”‌

The analysis of brain images suggested that persistent optimism is due to 'faulty' function of the brain’s frontal lobes, in processing information which leads to failure in storing risk awareness, researchers wrote in the Nature Neuroscience journal.

Human brain tends to learn more from positive information about future because its frontal lobe is very good at tracking and coding for positive information about future, Sharot said. ”When you get negative information about the future, the frontal lobes don’t code that information as efficiently.”‌

”Many experts believe the financial crisis in 2008 was precipitated by analysts overestimating the performance of their assets even in the face of clear evidence to the contrary,”‌ Sharot added as an example of the negative side of that sort of denial.

Downplaying the negative comes at a cost, she warned. ”We might not take the precautionary actions needed.”‌

The study has brought more information for scientists about human brain function which may also help them get a better understanding of disease such as depression.

Source: presstv.ir

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