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Fewer dopamine receptors makes for risky business 

Brain-scanning study in people sees link between personality, dopamine system

It seems preposterous that thrill seeker James Bond would have too few of anything, but new research suggests he may have a deficit of dopamine receptors.

Earlier work has suggested that a propensity for risky behaviors, like driving fast cars, gambling and drinking, is influenced by dopamine, one of the brain’s chemical messengers. Now a team of researchers led by neuroscientist David Zald has confirmed in humans a link between “novelty-seeking personality traits” and dopamine receptors. The team’s results appear in the Dec. 31 Journal of Neuroscience.

“Risk seeking is a basic characteristic that varies widely among people,” says Zald, of Vanderbilt University in Nashville. Of risk seekers, Zald says: “They get bored quickly with the same old, same old and turn to things like drug use, whiskey and sex. These exciting things have a lot of pull for them.”

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