MONKEYS TAUGHT TO GAMBLE
What did they do?
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University trained a pair of rhesus macaques to gamble against a computer in order to win drinks of water. They were allowed to choose between two machines: one set up with 20 per cent chance to win 10ml and one set up with an 80 per cent chance to win 3ml.
What did they find?
Both monkeys consistently chose the machine with the greater pay off despite the longer odds. Even when they were no longer thirsty they still went for the riskier bets, seemingly egged on by the excitement of a big win. However, when the team suppressed a region of the monkeys’ brains known as the supplementary eye field they were 40 per cent less likely to take risky bets.
Why did they do that?
As non-human primates and humans share a similar brain structure, the researchers believe the findings should apply to also people and could potentially lead to treatments for compulsive gamblers.