July 25, 2012
Neuroscientists used poker games and MRI scans to separate social from purely strategic decision making.
BOB HIRSHON (host):
Poker as a scientific tool. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
Brain scans of people playing poker are helping neuroscientists understand decision-making. Researchers at Duke University, including Scott Huetell, wanted to find out if the brain handles social information separately when making a decision. So they had volunteers play video poker, either against another person or the computer. Huetell says the volunteers’ brains behaved similarly in both conditions, except in a region called the temporal-parietal junction.
SCOTT HUETELL (Duke University):
That is, this region predicts how people were going to play the poker game, but only when they’re playing a real human opponent.
Specifically, the region indicated whether or not players would try bluffing their opponents – even though they bluffed against the computer as well. The results suggest that our brains may play by different decision-making rules when other people are involved. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.