April 22, 2011

Sleep Deprivation Causes Risky Financial Choices

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Reviewed by: 
Joseph V. Madia, MD By:

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Attention, memory, and economic decision impaired without enough sleep

(dailyRx News) Casinos know sleepy people can make poor decisions. Using functional MRI scans, we now know which regions of the brain work best without sleep. And which brain regions assess positive outcomes.

A recent study from Duke University shows that people (gamblers) without adequate sleep may fool themsleves into making poor financial decisions.

"Get enough sleep to avoid risky financial decisions."

The study's lead author Vinod Venkatraman, a graduate student in psychology and neuroscience, noted sleep impairment of judgment works against late night gamblers and is an advantage for casinos.

Venkatraman believes sleepy people tend to count their winnings prematurely, minimize risk assessment and laud potential gains.

Duke researchers used questionnaires, once with a good night's sleep and once without to assess study participants decision-making. Then, MRI scans were used after each night to see which part of the brain was most activated and which part was most muted. 

The questionnaires along with the MRI scan led them to conclude sleepiness leads to dumbness when making financial choices.

In Depth

  • The study assessed the effects of sleep deprivation on 29 adult volunteers
  • The study participants were asked to take part in several economic decision-making tasks in the morning after a normal night of sleep
  • The study participants were asked the same questions after a night of sleep deprivation.
  • Functional MRI scans used to study brain activity revealed that a lack of sleep increased activity in regions that assess positive outcomes 
  • These same MRI scans when measuring sleepy people showed that activity in regions processing negative outcomes decreased.

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Reviewed by: 
Joseph V. Madia, MD
Review Date: 
April 17, 2011

Last Updated:
April 22, 2011