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Measuring Beliefs and Rewards: A Neuroeconomic Approach

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Listed:
  • Andrew Caplin
  • Mark Dean
  • Paul W. Glimcher
  • Robb B. Rutledge

Abstract

The neurotransmitter dopamine is central to the emerging discipline of neuroeconomics; it is hypothesized to encode the difference between expected and realized rewards and thereby to mediate belief formation and choice. We develop the first formal tests of this theory of dopaminergic function, based on a recent axiomatization by Caplin and Dean (Quarterly Journal of Economics, 123 (2008), 663–702). These tests are satisfied by neural activity in the nucleus accumbens, an area rich in dopamine receptors. We find evidence for separate positive and negative reward prediction error signals, suggesting that behavioral asymmetries in responses to losses and gains may parallel asymmetries in nucleus accumbens activity.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew Caplin & Mark Dean & Paul W. Glimcher & Robb B. Rutledge, 2010. "Measuring Beliefs and Rewards: A Neuroeconomic Approach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(3), pages 923-960.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:125:y:2010:i:3:p:923-960.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1162/qjec.2010.125.3.923
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Weekend Links
      by Liam Delaney in Geary Behaviour Centre on 2011-01-28 21:49:00

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    Cited by:

    1. Jack Vromen, 2011. "Neuroeconomics: two camps gradually converging: what can economics gain from it?," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 58(3), pages 267-285, September.
    2. Hu, Yingyao & Kayaba, Yutaka & Shum, Matthew, 2013. "Nonparametric learning rules from bandit experiments: The eyes have it!," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 215-231.
    3. Brocas, Isabelle & Carrillo, Juan D., 2014. "Dual-process theories of decision-making: A selective survey," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 45-54.
    4. Caplin, Andrew, 2014. "Rational inattention and revealed preference: The data-theoretic approach to economic modeling," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(4), pages 295-305.
    5. Colin F. Camerer, 2013. "A Review Essay about Foundations of Neuroeconomic Analysis by Paul Glimcher," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 51(4), pages 1155-1182, December.
    6. Cary Frydman & Nicholas Barberis & Colin Camerer & Peter Bossaerts & Antonio Rangel, 2012. "Using Neural Data to Test a Theory of Investor Behavior: An Application to Realization Utility," NBER Working Papers 18562, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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