Some people are more predisposed to gambling large sums, or diving off a cliff, or even starting their own business in a free-falling economy. And that tendency toward risk-taking might be rooted in their DNA — and visible in their brains, suggests new research published in Nature Human Behavior.

Researchers looked at more than 12,000 different brain scans and genetic data to establish the link. After controlling for total brain size, age, gender, handedness, excessive alcohol consumption, and genetic factors related to population structure, they found that risky behavior was linked to less gray matter in parts of the brain. Gray matter controls brain functions like muscle control, sensory perception, and decision-making. Distinct brain regions in which this less gray matter correlation showed up include the amygdala (controls fear and emotion), hippocampus (controls making new memories), and the cerebellum (controls balance and co-ordination).

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