Neuroeconomics: How the Brain Decides
Pepsi or Coke? Save or invest? Compete or cooperate? Study or stay in bed? We face decisions like these every day. This course shows us how our brain solves such dilemmas.
Name of minor:
|Neuroeconomics: How the Brain Decides|
|Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM); Department of Marketing Management|
Other programmes which are contributing to the minor:
|See admissions matrix|
ContentIn this course, we discuss the history of neuroeconomics and provide a crash-course on the anatomy of the brain, as well as an introduction to neuroscience methods. Subsequently, we will investigate the balance between rationality and emotions, and provide a brief introduction into decision-theory form both a psychologist and an economist perspective. Then, students will be presented with the main theories and neuroscientific findings accounting for how the brain makes (optimal) economic choices. We will focus on the neural mechanisms of the computation of value and preference, and how the brain deals with risk and potential losses. In addition, we will focus on social aspects of decision-making: how group-membership and social interactions shape individuals’ decision-making. Finally, the practical applications of brain research in the fields of economics, marketing, business, and other aspects of society will be discussed. Neuroeconomics can provide social scientists and future managers with a deeper understanding of how they make their own decisions, and how others decide. How is a “good” or “fair” decision evaluated by the brain? What does our brain perceive as valuable? How do we learn the value of features of our environment? Is it possible to predict the purchasing intentions of a consumer? Are we hard-wired to be risk-averse or risk-taking?
Maximum number of students that can participate in the minor:65
Minimum number of students that can participate in the minor:16
Overview modules:Module 1: How the brain works
Module 2: Perspectives on Decision-Making
Module 3: How the brain decides
Module 4: The Brain in Society
Module 1: How the Brain Works (4 ECTS)
Content:The course will start with an introduction into the field by discussing the history of neuroeconomics, the anatomy of the brain, and the main brain imaging methods (such as fMRI and EEG).
Module 2: Perspectives on Decision-Making (3 ECTS)
Content:In this module, we will study the balance between rationality and emotions in the process of decision-making. As such, we provide a brief introduction in decision-theory form both a psychologist and an economist perspective.
Module 3: How the Brain Decides (5 ECTS)
Content:This module focuses on the core building blocks of neuroeconomics: decision theory and neuroscience. In a simple way, students will be presented with the main theories and findings accounting for how individuals learn the value of actions and outcomes, and use this information to make (optimal) economic choices. We will focus on the neural mechanisms of the computation of value and preference, and how the brain deals with risk and losses. In addition, we will review current theories and scientific findings on social decision-making, focusing particularly on evaluations of fairness, cooperation, trust and empathy. Finally, we will investigate individual differences in choice behavior and how decision-making changes across the lifespan.
Module 4: The Brain in Society (3 ECTS)
Content:In this last module, the influence of marketing actions on the consumer’s brain and behaviour will be discussed and practical applications of brain research in the fields of marketing and business will be shown. In addition, the moral and ethical dimensions of brain research will be discussed.
Teaching methods (all modules):
- Seminars and presentations of selected papers (team assignment)
- During a final class “Symposium” each team presents a research proposal of a Neuroeconomics topic (team assignment)
- Selected chapters from Baars & Gage (2013) Fundamentals of Cognitive Neuroscience: A Beginners Guide
- Selected chapters from Kahneman (2011) Thinking, Fast and Slow
- Selected chapters from other books & selected journal articles
Contact hours (all modules):
Method of examination:
- Presentation of Class Paper + Questions – 20% of final mark
- Two written exams (Modules 1, 2 and Modules 3 & 4) – together 50% of final mark
- Research proposal with final presentation at the end of the course – 30% of final mark
- The grade for the two assignments and the grade for the written test all need to be ≥4.5.
- When the grade of the assignments is not sufficient, an addendum can be submitted in order to enhance the grade. In addition, there is a re-sit of the written test.
- The overall grade needs to be ≥5.5 to pass the minor.
Phone: 010 – 4081471
Erasmus Centre for Neuroeconomics