July 9, 2012 : TUNE UP YOUR POKER BRAIN
 
New research from Duke University shows that a special region of the brain is used for bluffing
 
A specific region of the human brain influences bluffing calls in poker, and reacts differently when a player is using a computer as opposed to challenging or bluffing an opponent face-to-face, researchers at Duke University report.
 
Researchers using sophisticated scanning and neural imaging technology observed the neural reactions of people competing in a poker game, both against a computer and against an opponent the participants knew to be human.
 
They found that the temporal-parietal junction in the brain carried information that was unique to making decisions about who might be a worthy opponent and whether to bluff, according to a paper published by the university in the journal Science this week.
 
"Often the brain is considered to have an entire ‘social network' comprising a number of regions that help us interact with others in social contexts," Duke research director Scott Huettel, reported.
 
"Our analyses looked at all of those regions and found that all but one responded in essentially the same way against the human and computer opponents," said Huettel, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the university.
 
He said that researchers were surprised to find that the temporal-parietal junction was used exclusively in making decisions on interactions with another person.
 
Lead researcher McKell Carter, a postdoctoral fellow at Duke, said the region, located on the perimeter of the brain, combines information gleaned by attention and by biology, such as, "Is that another person?" Humans prefer to be social, he said, and so paid greater attention to their human opponents than to cyber antagonists.