Brain 'hardware' key to decision-making flexibility

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Melbourne, Aug 24 (ANI): Flexibility in decision-making is dependent on structural features of the brain, an international research team has shown.

Australian research team member, Associate Professor Scott Brown, of the University of Newcastle's Cognition Laboratory, said that quick decisions tend to be error-prone while relatively slower contemplation tends to produce more accuracy.

This trade-off between speed and accuracy means people need to be able to switch between the fast risky and slower cautious modes of decision-making, as required.

However, says Brown little is known about the neurology underpinning this flexibility.

In their study, the research team, including scientists from the UK, Germany and The Netherlands, examined what brain mechanisms underpinning decision-making flexibility.

They found it was determined by the "purely physical measurement" of the thickness of the connections between the brain's cortex and the striatum of the basal ganglia.

He says the results are the equivalent of brain communication being reliant on a broadband connection or still using dial-up.

"The underlying finding that a purely physical measurement could predict behaviour is very surprising," ABC Science quoted him as saying.

Brown said the team has not determined what causes one person's connections to be thicker than another's.

"It could be that it is the 'use it or lose it' phenomena," he said.

However in a paper still under review, Brown said, the team has also shown the connection thins with age.

"As you get older the bandwidth gets slower and slower," he said.

The study appears in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (ANI)

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