Neural correlates of Traditional Chinese Medicine induced advantageous risk-taking decision making

Tiffany M.Y. Lee, Li guo Guo, Hong zhi Shi, Yong zhi Li, Yue jia Luo, Connie Y.Y. Sung, Che Hin Chan, Tatia M.C. Lee

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


This fMRI study examined the neural correlates of the observed improvement in advantageous risk-taking behavior, as measured by the number of adjusted pumps in the Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART), following a 60-day course of a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) recipe, specifically designed to regulate impulsiveness in order to modulate risk-taking behavior. The 14 participants recruited for this study were randomly assigned to the experimental and control groups and the TCM recipe (Panax, 520 mg; Astragalus membranaceous Bunge, 520 mg; Masnetitum, 840 mg; Ostrea gigas Thumb, 470 mg; Thinleaf Milkwort Root Radix Polygalae, 450 mg; and Os Draconis, 470 mg) was administered, as a diet supplement, to the seven participants in the experimental group. The neural activity of the two groups was monitored by a 3T MRI scanner, before and after the 60-day treatment. Associated with the improved advantageous risk-taking behavior seen in the experimental group, significantly stronger blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) responses were observed in the bilateral dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), left putamen, left thalamus, right insula, and right anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), regions which have previously been reported as being involved in risk-taking decision making. The effect of the TCM in improving advantageous risk-taking decision making appears to have been related to the enhanced efficiency of the cognitive affective system, the PFC-ACC-insula-striatum network, which functions to inhibit impulsiveness, to sensitize reward-related information, and to allow the opportunity, during risk estimation, to evaluate potential gains and losses. The findings of this study suggest that interventions acting on factors modulating risk-taking decision making could have a beneficial effect in terms of optimizing risk-taking behavior.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)354-361
Number of pages8
JournalBrain and Cognition
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2009


  • Anterior cingulate cortex
  • Balloon Analogue Risk Task
  • Insula
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Risk taking
  • Striatum
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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