Midbrain Mutiny: The Picoeconomics and Neuroeconomics of Disordered Gambling: Economic Theory and Cognitive Science
The explanatory power of economic theory is tested by the phenomenon of irrational consumption, examples of which include such addictive behaviors as disordered and pathological gambling. Midbrain Mutiny examines different economic models of disordered gambling, using the frameworks of neuroeconomics (which analyzes decision making in the brain) and picoeconomics (which analyzes patterns of consumption behavior), and drawing on empirical evidence about behavior and the brain. The authors argue that pathological gambling is a true addiction and that addictive gambling is the basic form of addiction, revealing the core character of all addiction. The book describes addiction in neuroeconomic terms as chronic disruption of the balance between the midbrain dopamine system and the prefrontal and frontal serotonergic system, and reviews recent evidence from trials testing the effectiveness of antiaddiction drugs. The authors argue that the best way to understand disordered and addictive gambling is with a hybrid picoeconomic-neuroeconomic model, and their demonstration of this framework's applicability to gambling provides a concrete case study for the more abstract description of picoeconomic-neuroeconomic complementarity in Don Ross's earlier book Economic Theory and Cognitive Science: Microexplanation (MIT Press, 2005).
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