About this minor
Learn how the brain decides. Follow a crash-course on the anatomy and functions of the brain, as well as an introduction to neuroscience methods. Investigate the balance between rationality and emotions, and obtain a brief introduction into decision-theory from both a psychologist and an economist perspective.
In this course, we discuss the emerging field of neuroeconomics and provide a crash-course on the anatomy of the brain, as well as an introduction to neuroscience methods. Subsequently, we will investigate the balance between rationality and emotions, and provide a brief introduction into decision-theory from both a psychologist and an economist perspective. Then, students will be presented with the main theories and neuroscientific findings accounting for how the brain makes (optimal) economic choices. We will focus on the neural mechanisms of the computation of value and preference, and how the brain deals with risk and potential losses. In addition, we will focus on social aspects of decision-making: how group-membership and social interactions shape individuals’ decision-making. Finally, the practical applications of brain research in the fields of economics, marketing, organizations, the legal system, and other aspects of society will be discussed.
Neuroeconomics can provide social scientists and future managers with a deeper understanding of how they make their own decisions, and how others decide. How is a “good” or “fair” decision evaluated by the brain? What does our brain perceive as valuable? How do we learn the value of features of our environment? Is it possible to predict consumer purchases? How does this knowledge impact society at large?
The minor focuses on the interdisciplinary field of neuroeconomics - a new general theory of human behaviour building on psychology, economics and neuroscience. The goal of this minor is to understand the processes that underly decision-making by revealing the neurobiological mechanisms by which these decisions are made. The course focuses on neural mechanisms of choice; neural representation of subjective values; neurobiology of human (ir)rationality; affective mechanisms of decision making; social decision making; and applications of this knowledge in areas such as marketing and management. Students will be provided with the most recent evidence from brain-imaging studies, and you will be introduced to the explanatory models behind them.
Good to know
The course introduces an interdisciplinary perspective on economic choice behaviour. We are looking for students who want to understand decision making from a biological perspective; eager to learn more about how neuroscience can teach us about consumer and managerial behaviour. The course is particularly relevant for students from business administration, economics, psychology, and the social sciences in general. However, all students who are interested in the neurobiological underpinning of choice behaviour are encouraged to participate. There are no requirements of specific background knowledge, but a good command of the English language (both spoken and written) is recommended.
Teaching method and examination
- Writing a research proposal on a Neuroeconomics topic (team assignment)
- Selected chapters from Ward (4th edition). The Student’s Guide to Cognitive Neuroscience
- Selected chapters from Baddeley (2nd edition) Behavioural Economics and Finance
- Selected chapters from other books & selected journal articles
Method of examination
A final written exam
A research proposal with presentation at the end of the course (group assignment)
Composition final grade
- Written test – 60% of final mark
- Research proposal with presentation at the end of the course – 40% of final mark
The research proposal and the presentation are group assignments.
- The grade for the written test needs to be ≥4.5.
- When the grade of the assignments is not sufficient, an addendum can be submitted in order to enhance the grade.
- There is a re-sit of the written test.
- The overall grade needs to be ≥5.5 to pass the minor.