Neuroeconomics: our life as a choice

Basil Klyucharev neuroscientist explains how our brain makes decisions, how they are influenced by the opinions of others, and that the total neurons with bees.

Neuroeconomics: our life as a choice

Every second we take a lot of decisions. From the perspective of neuroeconomics our behavior consists of permanent moment of choice between different options. For example, when we read a book, we determine for themselves which language the text is written, what is the meaning of the words, trying to guess what will happen next. There are solutions that are given to us simply - for example, whether to eat lunch in an apple or a pear. But if before you apple and a piece of cake, and you're on a diet, the problem is complicated. Either way, the need to choose haunts us constantly.

How does the decision-making process in the brain? To do this, neuroscientists Mike Chadli (Michael Shadlen) and Bill Newsome (Bill Newsome) suggested the use of so-called diffuse model. Suppose that you have a choice of two options. You start to accumulate information - choose from the external environment evidence in favor of both solutions. This process continues until the moment when it reaches a particular decision threshold. And then you make a choice. In the brain there are neurons-detectors that collect information that comes to them from other areas. She, in turn, accumulate other neurons - integrators, and which is "responsible" for choosing one of the options. Neuroeconomics - interdisciplinary field of science at the intersection of economics, neuroscience and psychology. It studies the decision-making process when choosing alternatives, risk-sharing and remuneration.

The fight neurons

Since the solutions may be several, there is a struggle between neurons. For example, you see before you is a picture, but you can not distinguish between what is depicted on it - a house or a person. The recognition includes areas of the brain that are sensitive to their homes and the area of ​​sensitive persons. Both groups seek to provide neurons integrators as much evidence in favor of his release. Suppose one of the integrator neurons accumulates more data on the "home" team. At some point it reaches the "decision threshold" - and we can see the house! At the same time it inhibits the activity of a neuron "competitors", which also seek to reach the threshold.

Under the influence of other

Diffuse model can be used not only in neuroscience but also in the study of social perception. We are often under the influence of others. Often, even the number of "likes" on a Facebook entry to determine how we will treat written. The question arises - how we affect others? And what exactly do they affect? other people's behavior may even cause us to see certain things. We all know about the situations of mass religious visions. How to explain why people of faith, looking at a slice of toasted bread, suddenly begin to "see" it in the face of a saint? In terms of our model, the opinions of others in some way changes the way we process information. We conducted a simple experiment. Subjects were imposed on "noisy" incentives (illegible pictures), which was encrypted image of a person or vehicle, and demanded as soon as possible to give an answer that they see. Before that, they learned opinion of the group. We manipulated them solutions group was faster and more accurate decisions subjects. The results showed that the group has influenced the subjects, making them more deeply analyze information, draw from it is something that they themselves would not have guessed detect.

What are dancing bees?

Colleagues who study decision-making in groups of bees, strangely use the same model. It is known that the bees can communicate with each other - for example, to transfer information about the food source and direction before. As a group of bees decides to pull up stakes and fly in the direction of food? They create a swarm. First, bees scouts are scouting, looking for a good place. Returning back to the colony, they start dancing, pointing to his dance as the location and the direction to it. At some point, there are many different scouts that "advertise" different directions. Some scouts involve others in their dance. Gradually, one of the areas is gaining more and more supporters, and at some point have all scouts dancing in this direction. And then the whole swarm is removed from the place and flies wherever shows most scouts. You can see the similarity between the behavior of bees and neurons. Probably, this similarity is not accidental. By neuroeconomics and aims - to find a common language with which we can study the same processes at different levels of complexity. Basil Klyucharev - a neuroscientist, a specialist in neurobiological basis of social behavior and neuroeconomics, Lecturer at the Higher School of Economics. The material is based on a lecture given at the conference psychological "fork" April 19, 2015.