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April 26, 2006
Tyler Cowan on Neuroeconomics and iTunes
For those of you who missed Tyler Cowan's article in the NYTimes last week, here is a bit he shares on his group blog Marginal Revolution (visit MR to access the full article):
"Not all of neuro-economics uses brain scans. Andrew W. Lo, a professor at the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, applied polygraph-like techniques to securities traders to show that anxiety and fear affect market behavior. Measuring eye movements, which is easy and cheap, helps the researcher ascertain what is on a subject's mind. Other researchers have opened up monkey skulls to measure individual neurons; monkey neurons fire in proportion to the amount and probability of rewards. But do most economists care? Are phrases like "nucleus accumbens" — referring to a subcortical nucleus of the brain associated with reward — welcome in a profession caught up in interest rates and money supply? Skeptics question whether neuro-economics explains real-world phenomena...
The next step? Perhaps neuro-economics should turn its attention to political economy. Do people use the same part of their brains to vote as to trade? Is voting governed by fear, disgust or perhaps the desire to gain something new and exciting?"
I can't wait for Tyler to get a hold of my forthcoming book, Our Emerging Neurosociety: How Brain Science Is Radically Re-Shaping Business, Politics and Culture. But in the meantime, I hope he continues to answer the really deep questions like why do all songs on iTunes cost 99 cents?
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