Blind optimism related to brain's frontal lobes: study

Date:2011-10-11litingting  Text Size:

BEIJING, Oct. 11 (Xinhuanet) -- Scientists have discovered that blind optimism is related to brain's frontal lobes which are associated with processing errors, according to a British study published Monday in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Scientists at the University College of London scanned brains of volunteers who were asked to estimate their personal likelihood of involving in negative events, like a divorce or cancer,  before and after given the average probability of these events occurring.

They found that the volunteers who estimated lower probability (or the more optimistic ones) than the given one raised their estimates a little bit later while those estimated higher probability altered their estimates much more.

Through the brain scanner, scientists saw there was less activity in the volunteers' frontal regions when the information given was worse than expected while more activity when the information was better than expected.

It suggested that the more optimistic people neglected the negative predictions.

"The more optimistic we are, the less likely we are to be influenced by negative information about the future," said Dr. Tali Sharot, lead author of the study.

He added being optimistic clearly had some benefits, "but it can also mean that we are less likely to take precautionary action, such as practising safe sex or saving for retirement. So why don't we learn from cautionary information?"


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