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Measuring Beliefs and Rewards: A Neuroeconomic Approach

  • Andrew Caplin

    (New York University.)

  • Mark Dean

    (Brown University.)

  • Paul W. Glimcher

    (New York University and Center for Neuroeconomics, New York University.)

  • Robb B. Rutledge

    (Center for Neural Science, New York University.)

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. (c) 2010 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology..

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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 125 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 (August)
Pages: 923-960

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:125:y:2010:i:3:p:923-960
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