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Risk Avoidance in Older Adults is Related to Brain Anatomy, Not Age

Researchers from Yale University and NYU have revealed that the correlation between age and risk taking has more to do with brain anatomy then age itself. They have confirmed that age-related decline in risk tolerance correlates more with changes of gray matter in the brain rather than with age.

The Study:

  • 52 participants, aged 18 to 88 years old were presented with a number of choices.
  • Choice Example Participants were asked to choose if they would rather receive $5 or take their chances with a lottery of varying amounts and probabilities
  • Numbers were assigned denoting the participant’s level of risk tolerance based on their choices.
  • MRI measurements were compared with risk choices, confirming age-related decline in risk tolerance correlates more with changes in brain anatomy than with age.

The Findings:

  • The more grey matter young adults had, the more likely they were to take risks.
  • “This means that gray matter volume accounts for age-related changes in risk attitude more than age itself.” – Ifat Levy, Associate Professor – Yale University.
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