The Marketplace in Your Brain

The Chronicle of Higher Education:

In 2003, amid the coastal greenery of the Winnetu Oceanside Resort, on Martha’s Vineyard, a group of about 20 scholars gathered to kick-start a new discipline. They fell, broadly, into two groups: neuroscientists and economists. What they came to talk about was a collaboration between the two fields, which a few researchers had started to call “neuroeconomics.” Insights about brain anatomy, combined with economic models of neurons in action, could produce new insights into how people make decisions about money and life.

A photo taken during one of those sun-dappled days captures the group posed and smiling around a giant chess set on the resort lawn. Pawns were about two feet tall, kings and queens about four feet. Informally, the neuroscientists began to play the black pieces. The economists began to play white.

Today, nearly a decade later, a few black pawns have moved down the board. But the white pieces have stayed put. “I would say that neuroeconomics is about 90 percent neuroscience and 10 percent economists,” says Colin F. Camerer, a professor of behavioral finance and economics at the California Institute of Technology and one of the prime movers in the new field. “We’ve taken a lot of mathematical models from economics to help describe what we see happening in the brain. But economists have been a lot slower to use any of our ideas.”

Read the whole story: The Chronicle of Higher Education

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