Social Neuroeconomics: The neural circuitry involved in altruistic, fair and trusting behaviors
This paper discusses the neural circuitry involved in altruistic, fair and trusting behaviors. Enjoy!
Abstract (Via Kellogg)
Combining the methods of neuroscience and economics generates powerful tools for studying the brain processes behind human social interaction. We argue that hedonic interpretations of theories of social preferences provide a useful framework that generates interesting predictions and helps interpret brain activations involved in altruistic, fair and trusting behaviors. These behaviors are consistently associated with activation in reward-related brain areas, such as the striatum, and with prefrontal activity implicated in cognitive control, the processing of emotions, and integration of benefits and costs, consistent with resolution of a conflict between self-interest and other-regarding motives.
Introduction (Via Kellogg)
As in behaviorist psychology, the long-standing tradition in economic theory has been to treat preferences and beliefs as impossible or difficult to observe directly; instead, their effects were thought to be only revealed by direct choices. The emerging neuroeconomic approach [1–4] rejects the premise of unobservability, and seeks a microfoundation of social and economic activity in neural circuitry, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), pharmacological interventions and other techniques. The neuroeconomic approach hopes to unify mechanistic, mathematical and behavioral (choice-based) measures and constructs. Byproducts of such an ambitious program might include better understanding of individual differences and development over the human lifecycle (including disorders and expertise), insights into the effects of direct and social learning, empirical discipline of evolutionary modeling, and advice for how economic rules and institutions can be designed so that people react to rules in a socially efficient way.