Study Links Sex and Gambling

Financial risk-taking lights up brain's pleasure center
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 5, 2008 7:46 AM CDT
Researchers found that subjects exposed to pictures of something scary or neutral made lower bets than subjects exposed to erotic photos.   (Magnum Photos)
camera-icon View 3 more images

(Newser) – Taking risks with money lights up the same parts of the brain as sexual arousal, a "neuroeconomics" study has found. Men shown sexy pictures gambled more daringly than those shown scary pictures—spiders and snakes—or neutral pictures, reports the AP. The study of 15 heterosexual Stanford students focused on the nucleus accumbens, which sits near the base of the brain and plays a central role in the experience of pleasure.

Researchers said the "sex and money" hub makes sense. "You have a need in an evolutionary sense for both money and women. They trigger the same brain area," said one of the authors of the study, published in the journal NeuroReport. The subjects gambled with dimes, but the same response could be expected on stock market trading floors, researchers said, where they note traders communicate in a heavily sexual lingo.