That slide Tom Cruise does sans pants after he finds himself home alone? It’s got a lot to do with how his brain is structured. Or at least that’s the connection a new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience has made.

Researchers from the Yale School of Medicine had 28 young men and women choose between monetary lotteries, some riskier than others, before conducting an anatomical MRI on each of them. These brain scans showed that the participants who took higher riskers also had larger volume in part of their parietal lobe. The parietal lobe is one of the four major brain lobes, responsible for integrating our sensory information, and it turns out it may be able to predict risky behavior.

"Based on our findings, we could, in principle, use millions of existing medical brains scans to assess risk attitudes in populations," Ifat Levy, assistant professor in comparative medicine and neurobiology at Yale, said in a press release. "It could also help us explain differences in risk attitudes based in part on structural brain differences."

As is, Levy and his colleagues can’t say if changes in the brain structure can lead to behavioral changes. But prior to this, Levy and her colleagues found people avoid risk as they get older (risk aversion), which is relevant when you consider that the parietal cortex gets thinner over time. "It could be that this thinning explains the behavioral changes,” Levy said. “We are now testing that possibility.”

Separate research published in Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging found that teens who sustain injuries from risky behavior tend to have a hyperactive amygdala and prefrontal cortex. These biomarkers, researchers wrote, could help identify which teens are at risk for potentially dangerous behavior in the future.

The truth is there’s a slew of studies that find risky behavior can be predicted from an, ahem, head evaluation. In addition to the brain’s existing structure, damaging that structure can decrease risk aversion. Take methamphetamine users. A study from the University of California-Los Angeles found a compound in the drug impairs the frontal lobe, or the part of the brain that controls a person’s emotional decisions and judgment.

Yet, we’d be remiss not to note the research on the other end of the spectrum that finds the rush of dopamine, also known as the pleasure hormone, has its benefits. Medical Daily previously reported that when done right, taking risks can open your mind and boost your well-being. Perhaps that’s the secret to Panama’s higher well-being.

Source: Gilaie-Dotan S, Tymula A, Cooper N, Kable J, Glimcher P, et al. Neuroanatomy Predicts Individual Risk Attitudes. The Journal of Neuroscience. 2014.