Money on the brain

Tim Harford, who blogs as the Undercover Economist, presents a rollercoaster ride through the field of neuroeconomics, <a href=""'Money on the Brain' for Radio 4. The documentary is available via Radio 4’s Listen Again site for the next week, and reportedly via a podcast (which I unfortunately can’t find). This whistle-stop tour covers neuromarketing, behavioural economics and the possible effects of hormone levels on risk tasking among stockmarket brokers. The programme features great interviews with some top researchers, such as Paul Glimcher and, Glimcher aside, many of these researchers have an almost relgious optimism about the potential for fMRI-scanning, believing it will eventually tell us how economic decisions are made, why we follow crowds, what we’re thinking at any point in time, what age we should be able to vote and how much we value things like clean air. Admist this heady atmosphere the psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer brings us back to earth again: “You can’t read the mind. We understand quite little about the brain.” he begins. And then,

A former chairman of the Harvard Psychology deptartment once asked me “Gerd, do you know why they love those pictures [the fMRI activity maps]? It is because they are like women: they are beautiful, they are expensive and you don’t understand them”

If you read a classical article on neuroeconomics what you will find is mostly results which have been already known and recycled, and very little new insight.


Link to Radio 4 documentary ‘Money on the Brain’
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