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Fewer dopamine receptors makes for risky business 

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

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5:00pm, December 30, 2008

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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