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Monks in MRI Scanners

July 10, 2012

Stanford neuroeconomist Brian Knutson is an expert in the pleasure center of the brain that works in tandem with our financial decisions – the biology behind why we bypass the kitchen coffeemaker to buy the $4 Starbucks coffee every day.

He can hook you up to a brain scanner, take you on a simulated shopping spree and tell by looking at your nucleus accumbens – an area deep inside your brain associated with fight, flight, eating and fornicating – how you process risk and reward, whether you’re a spendthrift or a tightwad.

So when his colleagues saw him putting Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns into the MRI machine in the basement of the Stanford psychology building, he drew a few double-takes.

Knutson is still interested in the nucleus accumbens, which receives a dopamine hit when a person anticipates something pleasant, like winning at blackjack.

Excerpt of an article written by Meredith May, SFGate. Continue HERE

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