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In this provocative book, Paul Glimcher argues that economic theory may provide an alternative to the classical Cartesian model of the brain and behavior.
Glimcher argues that Cartesian dualism operates from the false premise that the reflex is able to describe behavior in the real world that animals inhabit. A mathematically rich cognitive theory, he claims, could solve the most difficult problems that any environment could present, eliminating the need for dualism by eliminating the need for a reflex theory. Such a mathematically rigorous description of the neural processes that connect sensation and action, he explains, will have its roots in microeconomic theory. Economic theory allows physiologists to define both the optimal course of action that an animal might select and a mathematical route by which that optimal solution can be derived. Glimcher outlines what an economics-based cognitive model might look like and how one would begin to test it empirically. Along the way, he presents a fascinating history of neuroscience. He also discusses related questions about determinism, free will, and the stochastic nature of complex behavior.
|1||Rene Descartes and the Birth of Neuroscience||3|
|2||Inventing the Reflex||33|
|3||Charles Sherrington and the Propositional Logic of Reflexes||55|
|4||Finding the Limits of the Sherringtonian Paradigm||77|
|5||Neurobiology Today: Beyond Reflexology?||111|
|6||Global Computation: An Alternative to Sherrington?||131|
|7||Modularity and Evolution||145|
|8||Defining the Goal: Extending Marr's Approach||171|
|9||Evolution, Probability, and Economics||205|
|10||Probability, Valuation, and Neural Circuits: A Case Study||225|
|11||Irreducible Uncertainty and the Theory of Games||271|
|12||Games and the Brain||299|
|13||Putting It All Together I. Behavior and Physiology||319|
|14||Putting It All Together II. Philosophical Implications||337|
Posted December 12, 2007
This book offers an outstanding survey of philosophy, psychology, brain science, economics, and the field that brings them all together, neuroeconomics. Paul W. Glimcher contends that Descartes¿ deterministic theory that simple behavior operates according to reflexes is influential far beyond its merits. He describes numerous experiments that support a very different understanding of behavior, which says that organisms seeking to fulfill their own goals (mostly to perpetuate their genes) must ¿choose¿ behaviors that somehow account for risk and return. In other words, they maximize ¿inclusive fitness¿ under conditions of uncertainty. Laboratory experiments and field research by behavioral ecologists lend considerable support to this view. We recommend this solid, layman¿s introduction to neuroeconomics and a remarkable series of discoveries.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.