Neuroeconomics – what do you make of it?

During the course of recent events, I have seen several passing mentions of irrational decision making, psychological effects on trading, etc. This is precisely the sort of thing that the emerging field of neuroeconomics is interested in addressing.

I don’t know much about neuroeconomics, but it involves two themes that I do know something about. I work in AI and my department hosts many accomplished neuroinformatics and computational neuroscience people. This gives me insights into the core issues on the neuro- side. I have been interested in economics for a long time now, partly because of my control theory background and partly because of an interest in principles for designing autonomous agents. However, it is only recently that I have heard about the combination of these two threads. At first sight, it seems like a strange marriage but it begins to make sense on closer inspection.

I read that many established institutions are becoming seriously interested. One of the more interesting threads seems to follow the behavioral economics work of Kahneman and Tyversky, exploring decision making at the neural level. Apparently, this is part of a growing area called decision neuroscience and places like USC are dedicating faculty positions to this topic.

I need to learn more… but I like the fact that neuroscience is making a serious foray into the ‘decision’ space. I find this more interesting than the ‘small-scale’ behaviors that are more often studied (e.g., finger tapping).


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