lectures on neuroeconomics during the International Brain Awareness Week will be read by PhD Sofya Kulikova, Senior Research Fellow of the HSE-Perm's Laboratory of Interdisciplinary Empirical Studies. Everybody is invited!
Neuroeconomics unites the elements of economics, neurobiology and psychology. It studies the processes of making all kinds of decisions: choice from alternative possibilities, choice under risk or uncertainty conditions etc. It helps to understand how our brain determines subjective value of one or another product and then try to use this knowledge in order to determine an optimal price for certain commercial products or to predict the consumer’s choice.
Neuroeconomics also studies how our brain assesses risks, how it identifies “honest” or “dishonest” offers and what determines its willingness or unwillingness to cooperate with other individuals.
Lecture 1. “Introduction to neuroeconomics. Basic notions and methods of brain study”
During the first lecture we will determine what neuroeconomics is and what prerequisites for its appearance were (Allais and Ellsberg paradoxes). We will note basic assumptions of the decision making theory (existence of choice, non-randomness, purposefulness), determine basic stages (processes) of making one or another decision and touch the “freedom of choice” problem. As an illustration of the subject matter of neuroeconomics we will look at several classical illustrative examples, such as behaviour in the “Dictator” game (with carrying out an experiment), prediction of some product purchase possibility or the volume of investment.
In the second “neurobiological” half of the lecture I will make a brief review of brain organization and the principles of its work as well as available methods of its study, within the framework of neuroeconomics tasks, such as electroencephalogram (EEG), magnet- encephalogram (MEG), Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). This review is intended to facilitate the understanding of the following lectures as well as any additional literature on neuroeconomics which a listener can ever meet.
Timing: March 22, 6.30 p.m. Venue: 3rd building of HSE-Perm, 37a Gagarina boulevard, room 218.
Lecture 2. “Perceptive decisions. Decisions based on the principle of maximization of expected subjective utility”
During the second lecture we will consider one of the basic models of decision making in neuroeconomics – “diffusion model” of perceptive decisions. This model assumes the existence of ganglion cells (neurons) – the integrators, activity of which reflects the difference between arguments in favour of each of alternatives, and the decision is made when the level of activity (frequency of neural impulses) exceeds some “decision making threshold”. The examples of such behaviour were shown through the example of humans, monkeys and even bees. Classical economic theory assumes that we make decisions rationally, seeking to maximize our profit. In the second half of the lecture we will learn what brain structures (dopaminergic brain system) determine expected subjective value of one or another object/action, how our brain weighs “pros and cons” of one or another decision and what practical utility can be derived from it all, for example, in the sphere of neuromarketing.
Timing: March 24, 6.30 p.m. Venue: 1st building of NRU HSE-Perm, 38 Studencheskaya st., room 403.
Lecture 3. “Emotional aspects of decision making. Decision making under risk or uncertainty conditions”
During this lecture we will discuss emotional aspects of decision making and will see how presentation of one or another emotional incentive can influence the course of decision making, for example, by changing the parameters of time discounting (“to get it now, but less or afterwards, but more”). Eventually the way of making a decision depends on the fact where the activity is more: either in “emotional” or in “rational” brain structures. The second half of the lecture will be focused on decision making under risk or uncertainty conditions. We will see what brain structures encode our notions about risks, which model of decision making in these cases is better confirmed by neurobiological data and how it is possible to evaluate the risk tolerance of a separate individual.
Timing: March 29, 6.30 p.m. Venue: 3rd building of NRU HSE-Perm, 37a Gagarina boulevard, room 218.
Lecture 4. “Social interaction during decision making. Evolutionary approaches to neuroeconomics”
The final lecture will be focused on mechanisms of social interaction during decision making, for example, in such a popular game as “prisoner's dilemma”. We’ll see what brain structures determine cooperative/non-cooperative behaviour and how our brain reacts on non-cooperative behaviour of “thankless” game partners. Finally we will consider several evolutionary approaches to neuroeconomics that study features and differences in decision making mechanisms for humans and animals.
Timing: March 31, 6.30 p.m. Venue: 3rd building of NRU HSE-Perm, 37a Gagarina boulevard, room 218.
Besides, on March 26 at 6.30 p.m. Sofya will read her paper in the lecture hall of “Big bang eyewitnesses' club” on the subject “Does an economist really need a brain?” Venue – coworking “Laboratory of the present”, 61 Monastyrskaya street, office 601.