Sunday, January 29, 2012

"New research suggests link between genetics, Wall Street success"

We've been on the dopamine beat for a while:
Engineer -- Addicted to Day Trading -- Stole Nearly $750,000 Making False Securities Class-action Claims
Now that's obsessive.
Usually it's the little old lady bookkeeper embezzling from her employer of thirty years to cover her slot habit.
Understandable, in a dopaminergic sort of way.
She's triggering her reward pathways and going a little nuts from the neurotransmitters bathing her brain but she's not trying to rob the casino to keep playing the slot machine.

This guy, on the other hand is a) participating in a slower game, which in theory should trigger the dopamine cascades less frequently and b) he's ripping off Martha Stewart!?

Here's the headline story from the Contra Costa Times:
New research suggests link between genetics, Wall Street success
CLAREMONT - Stock traders whose genetic makeups can help them make healthy decisions about risk-taking may be better suited for a long career on Wall Street than others who may be predisposed to a "cowboy" way of doing business, new research suggests.

"I don't want the guy who is going to stay awake for four days and drink Red Bull and make trades across three markets in three time zones," Claremont Graduate University professor Paul Zak said.
Zak and two graduate students published their research in the January issue of PLoS One, an online science journal. The researchers conducted their study by comparing the genetic codes of working Wall Street traders to a control group of business students.
The researchers found evidence that genes affecting the way the brain processes dopamine, a chemical linked to risk-taking behavior, may be associated with success on Wall Street.
Traders who had successful careers, as measured by length of employment, tended to have genetic backgrounds linked to moderate levels of dopamine.
In other words, a good trader is likely to have a genetic code that influences a person's behavior toward competitiveness, but not the kind of thrill-seeking behavior in which risk taking becomes an addiction.
"Combining the personality analyses and genetic findings from the present study reveals that our sample of traders are analytical, integrative and can delay gratification," Zak and his co-authors wrote in their research paper....MORE
HT: Finance Professor

I love PLoS One; JSTOR and the journals crowd can go hang. Any work financed by the public should be publicly available. Here's the paper.

Berlusconi Blames Stock Market Volatility On Cocaine (and a look at neurotransmitters)
"What Caffeine Actually Does to Your Brain"
Your Brain and Financial Bubbles

And just two weeks ago:
The Internet, Deflation and Depression
There was a story out last week that purported to show a correlation between time spent on the www and changes in brain physiology. I'm dubious....

...Further, the newspapers likened the changes to those seen in cocaine abusers but went on to describe something quite different from my understanding of what blow does to the reward pathways, overexciting the dopamine cascade until the various D receptors no longer react to dopamine and eventually leading to anhedonia. The big A is often concurrent with and like anxiety, may even kindle for depression.
Don't worry, be happy....