Zak, Paul J. Center for Neuroeconomics Studies, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, California.
Last reviewed:July 2020
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An integrative field of research that analyzes brain activity while experimental subjects make decisions. Neuroeconomics is a consilient discipline (that is, a discipline that combines the principles of other disciplines to produce a comprehensive analysis) that applies neuroscientific tools and methodologies to understand the decision making that occurs inside the brain (see illustration). Economics is the study of constrained decision making, and it uses both mathematical and statistical models of the decision goals and outcomes without considering the mechanisms leading to decisions. Neuroscience has focused primarily on cataloging mechanisms without considering the purpose of decisions. For this reason, neuroeconomics is a natural combination that draws from the best of, and extends, both fields. In addition, because the brains of all animals are economic, that is, they have limited resources to achieve necessary goals, neuroeconomic experiments are not limited to studies of human beings, but have also employed apes, monkeys, and rodents. See also: Brain; Decision analysis; Decision theory; Nervous system (vertebrate); Neurobiology
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