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Poker bluff reveals brain's decisionmaking

Posted by: Colleen Stoxen Updated: July 6, 2012 - 10:58 AM

By studying how poker players bluff, scientists say they’ve uncovered new information on a brain region that may drive human decision-making in social settings.

Duke University researchers hooked 20 people to scanners and watched the brain’s reaction as they played a one-card version of poker against either another person, or a computer.

The study, reported today in the journal Science, found the brain’s temporal parietal junction was more reactive when the player faced a human opponent, and that activity in the region predicted whether the subject would bluff. This suggests that part of the brain may help coordinate our relationships with other people, said study author Scott Huettel.

“When you engage with another person and detect they’re relevant for your behavior, this is the region that detects it,” said Huettel, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the Durham, North Carolina, university.

The study may help researchers understand how humans relate to each other.

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