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Resource Allocation in the Brain

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  • Alonso, Ricardo
  • Brocas, Isabelle
  • Carrillo, Juan D

Abstract

When an individual performs several tasks simultaneously, resources must be allocated to different brain systems to produce energy for neurons to fire. Following the evidence from neuroscience, we model the brain as an organization in which a coordinator allocates limited resources to the brain systems responsible for the different tasks. Systems are privately informed about the amount of resources necessary to perform their task and compete to obtain the resources. The coordinator arbitrates the demands while satisfying the resource constraint. We show that the optimal mechanism is to impose to each system with privately known needs a cap in resources that depends negatively on the amount of resources requested by the other system. This allocation can be implemented using a physiologically plausible mechanism. Finally, we provide some implications of our theory: (i) performance is inversely related to the difficulty of the task and can be flawless for sufficiently simple tasks, (ii) the dynamic allocation rule exhibits inertia (current allocations are increasing in past needs), and (iii) different cognitive tasks are performed by different systems only if the tasks are sufficiently important.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 8408.

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Date of creation: Jun 2011
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8408

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Related research

Keywords: mechanism design; multiple brain systems; neural darwinism; neuroeconomic theory;

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  1. Ricardo Alonso & Niko Matouschek, 2008. "Optimal Delegation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(1), pages 259-293.
  2. Marko Tervio & Ernesto Dal Bo, 2008. "Self-esteem, Moral Capital, and Wrongdoing," 2008 Meeting Papers 245, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  3. Arthur J. Robson, 2001. "Why Would Nature Give Individuals Utility Functions?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(4), pages 900-929, August.
  4. Brocas, Isabelle & Carrillo, Juan D., 2005. "A theory of haste," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 1-23, January.
  5. Alonso, Ricardo & Matouschek, Niko, 2005. "Relational Delegation," CEPR Discussion Papers 4870, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Arthur J. Robson & Larry Samuelson, 2009. "The Evolution of Time Preference with Aggregate Uncertainty," Levine's Working Paper Archive 814577000000000087, David K. Levine.
  7. Martimort, David & Semenov, Aggey, 2008. "The informational effects of competition and collusion in legislative politics," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(7), pages 1541-1563, July.
  8. Drew Fudenberg & Jean Tirole, 1991. "Game Theory," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262061414.
  9. Arthur J. Robson, 2001. "The Biological Basis of Economic Behavior," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(1), pages 11-33, March.
  10. Koessler, Frédéric & Martimort, David, 2012. "Optimal delegation with multi-dimensional decisions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 147(5), pages 1850-1881.
  11. Barbera, Salvador & Jackson, Matthew O. & Neme, Alejandro, 1997. "Strategy-Proof Allotment Rules," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 1-21, January.
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