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Patrick McCarron

Glimcher references the work of others in the “Judgement” section, which I found very interesting: in attempting to determine the soundness of a written argument, our brains sometimes reach to something more accessible to determine the quality of the argument—such as the font in which it’s written. In other words, we may not understand the argument, but if it’s written is a clean, readable font, we just may determine that the argument is valid.

I wonder how much this comes into play in advertising and the decisions consumers make. Is this phenomenon the reason why many of us simply reach for a nicer container or bottle, unaware of the quality of the product inside of it? Are advertisers aware of the brain’s odd judgement functions, and do they aim to exploit this?

Kasey Cannon

I found the "Applications" section in Chapter 3 very interesting. Diffusion models can be applied to answer questions about the effects of differences in groups of subjects such as aging. Researchers found that "age does not affect drift rates but does result in a larger non-decision time and wider boundary settings." Contrary to my intuitive prediction, many diffusion models have uncovered stable individual differences across very different tasks. The results about age, which are large, can be applied in many testing domains. Age was the only topic discussed in this section, but I am very curious about what other researchers have discovered and how their results can be applied.

Matt Kinderman

I had difficulty with understanding some of the more theoretical sections on traditional game theory and understanding the decision nodes as the authors described them. The sections that discussed concrete examples in a more narrative form, like the one on the Rock, Paper, Scissors game were much more insightful and easier to follow for me. I did find the analytical framework interesting as it provided a strong case to confirm much of what we already thought about decision making - human beings do not always behave rationally. For example, reciprocity and altruism, a sense of fairness, played large roles in the decision to allocate public goods, often going against the individual maximizing his or her own utility. The computational process models seem like promising means to understanding neural activity but I am curious to see if their use in experiments has moved passed monkeys? Perhaps as the technology and method is perfected, it will be possible to move to models of more complex decision making.

Katherine Hodges

The descriptions of the Game Theory Experiments in the fMRI are pretty darn cool (excuse the colloquialism). From taking Game Theory in the Spring Term with Guse, I have a general understanding of game theory from the quantitative side and of the Bayes and Nash equilibria discussed throughout chapter 2. The connection of trust in repeated games and forward induction to the frontal cortex in decision making seems natural, however, the ToM concept only came about in the 1995s. This reinforces to me the newness of the neuroeconomics field of study.

Reading about the connection of punishments to the dorsal striatum, which is in the basal ganglia that controls the reward system, connected my learning of game theory to topics covered in my psychology courses. The punishment activity in the brain where the reward system is activated gives neurological support to schadenfreude.

Lizz Platt

The design and practice section showed a side of experiments I had not given much thought. The authors give the example of using the word partner versus counterpart in the instructions. Altering one word can produce significantly different outcomes. Anonymity is another way the experiment can ensure the outcome is not a result of perceptions or other unrelated factors that cannot be controlled. I can imagine how these slight differences would change my actions in a dictator style game. For example, the word partner would probably cause me to divide the money more equally. Also, if I saw the “partner” or even had the chance to interact with him or her, I would divide the money differently depending on my own opinions of the other person.

After reading this section, I began to think about how a single word can change our actions as a society. Climate change versus global warming is one way in which society reacts to specific connotations. Using the term global warming, people start to think every day must be sweltering and snow should not exist. However, the term climate change is beginning to promote the true effects allowing people to understand extreme weather and the global temperature rather than the day-to-day weather. It would be interesting to see how other changes to words have altered society’s, as well as my own, opinions and outcomes.

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