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Can Neuroeconomics Tell Us Anything New?

What's the Latest Development?

Last week marked the annual meeting of neuroscientists and economists at Martha's Vineyard where the two groups converge to further develop and better understand the overlays of their two disciplines. Since 2003, the field of neuroeconomics has promised to change our very understanding of human decision making. To be sure, scientists are now prepared to tell us what parts of our brain are active when we are making certain economic calculations, such as whether to accept or reject the sale price on something offered in the supermarket. 

What's the Big Idea?

The collaboration has tended to benefit the field of neuroscience more than economics, perhaps because most economists are interested in what kinds of economic decisions humans make and not how they are made in the brain. "Princeton University's Faruk Gul and Wolfgang Pesendorfer, argued in a paper called 'The Case for Mindless Economics' that the discipline has been doing just fine by ignoring brain activity and looking only at results." Neuroscientists who feel jilted remind economists that their theories failed to predict the recent financial crisis, perhaps because we lacked a fuller understanding of our decision making faculties. 

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com


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