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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Gary B Kaniuk, Psy.D.(Cermak Health Services)
Description: This book describes neuroeconomics, a combination of neuroscience and behavioral economics, with the goal of understanding how economic policies influence motivation on a neuropsychological level and, ultimately, behavior. It explores the neural structure of preferences, values, and choices. This is an update of a 2008 edition.
Purpose: The purpose is to reflect the advances in the field, which "has matured at an astonishing rate over the past 5 years." The editors note: "Thanks to the work of hundreds of cutting-edge scholars, we now know quite a lot about how and where decisions are made in the brain, and that is reflected in the structure of this second edition."
Audience: Neuroscientists, economists, public policy makers, and undergraduate/graduate students will benefit greatly from this book. The editors are from New York University and University of Zurich, while the contributors represent an international authorship from Germany, the U.S., France, the U. K., China, and Switzerland.
Features: The book begins with an overview of the history of neuroeconomics, from the 1930s to the present and it considers judgment and decision making through process and psychological models. It also provides an introduction to neuroscientific research, along with an exploration of the behavioral biases of capuchin monkeys. Section 2 describes preferences from both a neuroscientific and behavioral level, which discusses social preferences and how emotion influences preferences. Reinforcement learning is important to the organism, especially in regard to the impact of neurotransmitters such as dopamine. The book also investigates the neural mechanisms underlying choices, in terms of perceptual decision making and value-based decision making. The authors discuss multiple brain systems for learning and controlling behavior including Pavlovian learning and instrumental conditioning. The book ends by discussing strategic choices (behavioral game theory) in humans and social decision making in primates. There are numerous colorful instructional boxes and figures, and an appendix, "Prospect Theory and the Brain," which is an explanation of behavioral and neuroeconomic perspectives on decisions and risk.
Assessment: This is an excellent book, but a fairly technical one, which requires readers to have a solid introduction to the topic. It should be in the libraries of students and professionals interested in neuroeconomics.