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Master Economics and Psychology: Introduction to Neuroeconomics (Spring)



Teacher: Stefano PALMINTERI


This course proposes an overall view of this emerging field, which is neuroeconomics. Neuroeconomics  research  is  aimed  to  demonstrate  the  existence  of  brain  systems  encoding decision variables, like expected utility or its components (value and probability)  and decision processes.  

We will start by describing the results coming from the neuroscientific study of simple economic paradigms (e.g. item valuation, binary choices) and we will try to sketch up a “state of the  art”  of  current  experimental  approaches  and  theories  linking  brain  activity  and  decision making, in these contexts.

Subsequently,  we will illustrate how similar experimental  approaches  can be extended to  the  study  of  more  complex  phenomena,  such  as  learning,  distortion  of  decision  criteria (temporal discounting, risk aversion) and strategic interaction between decision makers.  

To conclude, we will show how clinical neuroeconomics allows at once, to perfection the neuroeconomics  models  presented  before in the course, and to propose  new models  describe neuro-psychiatric pathologies and their symptoms.  

Table of contents

Class 1
Introduction (concepts and methods)

Class 2
Utility in the brain

Class 3
Modulation of utility in the brain

Class 4
Repeated decisions: reinforcement learning (I)

Class 5
Repeated decisions: reinforcement learning (II)


1. Neuroeconomics: Decision Making and the Brain. Edited by:Paul W. Glimcher and Ernst Fehr

2. Decision Neuroscience: An Integrative Perspective. Edited by: Jean-Claude Dreher Leon Tremblay