01/31/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Why We Take Risks

Risk-taking, by definition, defies logic. Reason can't explain why people do unpredictable things - like betting on blackjack or jumping out of planes - for little or, sometimes, no reward at all. There's the thrill, of course, but those brief moments of ecstasy aren't enough to keep most risk takers coming back for more - which they do, again and again, like addicts.

A new study by researchers at Vanderbilt University in Nashville and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City suggests a biological explanation for why certain people tend to live life on the edge - it involves the neurotransmitter dopamine, the brain's feel-good chemical.

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