This tiny part of your brain influenced you to buy a Powerball ticket

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Record-Breaking Powerball Jackpot Hits New Milestone

Scientists might have singled out the one small portion of your brain that influenced your decision whether or not to buy that $800-million jackpot Powerball ticket, according to a new study published in the journal Neuron.

Researchers at the Stanford Neurosciences Institute used diffusion-weighted MRIs to study a tract of neurons that connects two different brain regions associated with our comprehension of risks and rewards—anterior insula and nucleus accumbens.

Read more: Powerball Fever Is Whipping Americans Into A Frenzy

"Activity in one brain region appears to indicate 'Uh oh, I might lose money,' but in another seems to indicate 'Oh yay, I could win something,'" Brian Knutson, associate professor of psychology and lead researcher, said in a Stanford news release on Thursday. "The balance between this 'uh oh' and 'oh yay' activity differs between people and can determine the gambling decisions we make."

Knutson and his team gave 37 subjects $10 to gamble in various games. The gamblers were then placed in an MRI chamber where they could see a roulette wheel as well as the odds of winning or losing on each spin. Each spin cost a different amount of money. As the subjects contemplated their bets, researchers studied their brain activities, paying particular attention to the tract of neurons that connects these two regions of the brain. In each of the participants, they found that those who had a thicker layer of fatty tissue surrounding that tract—indicating a stronger connection between the two regions—made more cautious gambling decisions.

Click through for photos of ticket buyers vying for the big prize:

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January 2016 massive Powerball jackpot
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This tiny part of your brain influenced you to buy a Powerball ticket
A woman purchases a Powerball lottery ticket at a convenience store in Washington, DC, January 7, 2016. Lottery officials predict Saturday's jackpot will reach $700 million, the largest in history. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
A sign in the window of a liquor store shows the Powerball lottery jackpot at $700 million in Washington, DC, on January 7, 2016. The largest jackpot in lottery history, a whopping $700 million, is up for grabs in the United States on Saturday, driving feverish excitement among lotto players dreaming of becoming millionaires. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 11: A Powerball lottery ticket is printed for a customer at a 7-Eleven store on February 11, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Ticket sales have caused the jackpot to grow $500 million, one of the largest in the game's history. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 11: Kirk Cook rings up a Powerball lottery ticket sale at a 7-Eleven store on February 11, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Ticket sales have caused the jackpot to grow $500 million, one of the largest in the game's history. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
DUNKIRK, MD - JANUARY 06: With the Jackpot now at 500 million, Sherrie Haines sells a Powerball ticket to Robert Sweeney at the BP gas station, January 6, 2015 in Dunkirk, Maryland. People are visitingÃlottery counters across the area with hopes of hitting it big in tonights Powerball drawing. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
DUNKIRK, MD - JANUARY 06: With the Jackpot now at 500 million, Gale Call (L) and Sherrie Haines (C) sell a Powerball ticket to Mike Nastasi (R) at the BP gas station, January 6, 2015 in Dunkirk, Maryland. People are visitingÃlottery counters across the area with hopes of hitting it big in tonights Powerball drawing. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
A man purchases a Powerball lottery ticket at a liquor store in Washington, DC, January 4, 2016. Lottery officials predict the January 6 jackpot will reach $400 million, one of the largest in the game's history. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
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The results also suggested that people are most enticed by gambling opportunities that present a smaller chance of winning a lot of money combined with a small chance of losing a little money. There have been few examples in history that fit that description as closely as the current Powerball lottery, which costs $2 for a chance to win $800 million.

Knuston said he hopes the study will inspire research on curbing risky behavior through focusing on this area of the brain.

The post This Tiny Part Of Your Brain Influenced You To Buy A Powerball Ticket appeared first on Vocativ.

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