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Ready to Face the Future: Brain Mechanisms for Cognitive Flexibility and Exploration


  • Sylvain Charron
  • Sven Collette


Solving the exploration/exploitation trade-off is a fundamental issue for an organism living in an uncertain and changing environment. This review describes how a stream of cognitive neuroscience studies linked exploratory behaviour to structures in the human prefrontal cortex, then identified the brain mechanisms involved in the online adaptation of behaviour relatively to reward changes, and finally revealed fundamental limitations in the processing of information at the prefrontal level. The experiments and the results we present could particularly be of interest to economists who want to understand how cognitive neuroscience identify key processes in the human brain and shapes our understanding of decision-making. JEL Classification: D87, D81, D83, C91.

Suggested Citation

  • Sylvain Charron & Sven Collette, 2012. "Ready to Face the Future: Brain Mechanisms for Cognitive Flexibility and Exploration," Recherches économiques de Louvain, De Boeck Université, vol. 78(3), pages 73-81.
  • Handle: RePEc:cai:reldbu:rel_783_0073

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    neuroeconomics; exploration; prefrontal cortex;

    JEL classification:

    • D87 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Neuroeconomics
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior


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