Connectivity adaptations in dopaminergic systems

Investment decisions rely on perceptions from external stimuli along with the integration of inner brain-body signals, all of which are shaped by experience. As experience is capable of molding both the structure and function of the human brain, we have used a novel neuroimaging connectomic-genetic approach to investigate the influence of investment work experience on brain anatomy. We found that senior investors display higher gray matter volume and increased structural brain connectivity in dopamine-related pathways, as well as a set of genes functionally associated with adrenaline and noradrenaline biosynthesis (SLC6A3, TH and SLC18A2), which is seemingly involved in reward processing and bodily stress responses during financial trading.

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Fig: Structural brain changes and cerebral gene expression related to investment experience. (a) Cortical and subcortical maps of gray matter volume in senior investors. Red-yellow colors represent higher volume and blue colors lower volume. The results corrected for multiple comparisons are outlined in black (Top). Radar plot is shown (Bottom). (b) Connectogram of structural connectivity and brain projections of the weighted-degree of link-level interaction analysis related investment work experience. (c) Genes whose similar spatial distribution correlated with brain connectivity maps shown in b (top). Genetic pathways associated with these 89 genes (middle). Genetic functional network exhibiting the centrality of SLC6A3, TH and SLC18A2 (bottom). (d) Projections of cortical and subcortical areas of the distribution of these genes in the brain. SLC6A3 (p = 0.00029557), TH (p = 0.00043982) and SLC18A2 (p = 0.00001728). WLI analysis weighted-degree of link-level interaction analysis, NGE normalized gene expression, R right, L left.

These results suggest the key role of catecholamines in the way senior investors harness their emotions while raising bodily awareness as they grow in investment maturity.

Ortiz-Teran, E., Diez, I., Sepulcre, J. et al. Connectivity adaptations in dopaminergic systems define the brain maturity of investors. Sci Rep11, 11671 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-91227-x

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