Decisions, Uncertainty, and the Brain: The Science of Neuroeconomics

Decisions, Uncertainty, and the Brain: The Science of Neuroeconomics

by Paul W. Glimcher
     
 

ISBN-10: 0262072440

ISBN-13: 9780262072441

Pub. Date: 03/01/2003

Publisher: MIT Press

In this provocative book, Paul Glimcher argues that economic theory may provide an alternative to the classical Cartesian model of the brain and behavior. Rene Descartes (1596-1650) believed that all behaviors could be divided into two categories, the simple and the complex. Simple behaviors were those in which a given sensory event gave rise deterministically to an…  See more details below

Overview

In this provocative book, Paul Glimcher argues that economic theory may provide an alternative to the classical Cartesian model of the brain and behavior. Rene Descartes (1596-1650) believed that all behaviors could be divided into two categories, the simple and the complex. Simple behaviors were those in which a given sensory event gave rise deterministically to an appropriate motor response. Complex behaviors were those in which the relationship between stimulus and response was unpredictable. These behaviors were the product of a process that Descartes called the soul, but that a modern scientist might call cognition or volition.

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.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780262072441
Publisher:
MIT Press
Publication date:
03/01/2003
Series:
Bradford Books Series
Pages:
395
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.25(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Further Reading
Preface
IHistorical Approaches1
1Rene Descartes and the Birth of Neuroscience3
2Inventing the Reflex33
3Charles Sherrington and the Propositional Logic of Reflexes55
4Finding the Limits of the Sherringtonian Paradigm77
5Neurobiology Today: Beyond Reflexology?111
6Global Computation: An Alternative to Sherrington?131
7Modularity and Evolution145
IINeuroeconomics169
8Defining the Goal: Extending Marr's Approach171
9Evolution, Probability, and Economics205
10Probability, Valuation, and Neural Circuits: A Case Study225
11Irreducible Uncertainty and the Theory of Games271
12Games and the Brain299
13Putting It All Together I. Behavior and Physiology319
14Putting It All Together II. Philosophical Implications337
References347
Index355

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