nep-neu New Economics Papers
on Neuroeconomics
Issue of 2016‒01‒03
five papers chosen by
Daniel Houser
George Mason University

  1. Short-Term Plasticity in Auditory Cortical Circuit Evoked by Monetary Incentive Delay Task By Elena Krugliakova; Alexey Gorin; Anna Shestakova; Vasily Klucharev
  2. Condensation Task as an Experimental Model for Studying Individual Differences in Cognitive Control By Nikita A. Novikov; Dmitri V. Bryzgalov; Anna A. Lapina; Boris V. Chernyshev
  3. The Quantity-Quality Trade-off and the Formation of Cognitive and Non-cognitive Skills By Chinhui Juhn; Yona Rubinstein; C. Andrew Zuppann
  4. Test Scores, Noncognitive Skills and Economic Growth By Balart, Pau; Oosterveen, Matthijs; Webbink, Dinand
  5. Bridging the Attitude-Preference-Gap: A Cognitive Approach To Preference Formation By Schmitt, Rebecca

  1. By: Elena Krugliakova (National Research University Higher School of Economics); Alexey Gorin (National Research University Higher School of Economics); Anna Shestakova (National Research University Higher School of Economics); Vasily Klucharev (National Research University Higher School of Economics)
    Abstract: To choose optimally, people must consider both the potential value and the probability of a desired outcome. This idea is reflected in the expected value theory, which considers both the potential value of different courses of action and the probability that each action will lead to a desired outcome. Accordingly, during decision-making people choose an alternative with the highest expected value. The dominant neurobiological models of decision-making assume that the sensory inputs to the decision-making neural networks are stationary. However, many cognitive studies have demonstrated experience-induced plasticity in the primary sensory cortex, suggesting that repeated decisions could modulate the sensory processing. We investigated experience-induced plastic changes in the neural representation of the acoustic cues coding different expected values using a repeated monetary incentive delay task (MID-task; Knutson et al., 2005). Subjects participated in two extensive sessions of an audio-version of the MID-task. Next, we investigated electrophysiological correlates of the experience-induced plasticity of the primary auditory cortex by comparing the mismatch negativity (MMN) component before and after the MID-task sessions. We found that after extensive MID-task training, the stimuli with largest expected value evoked larger MMN responses (as compared to the baseline oddball session) that probably reflects a more fine-grained stimulus discrimination of highly valued stimuli. After extensive MID-task training acoustic cues coding intermediate expected values evoked larger P3a component (as compared to the baseline oddball session), that can indicate a stronger involuntary attention switching toward moderately valued stimuli. Overall, our results show that continuing valuation during the MID-task evokes a short-term plastic changes in the auditory cortices associated with the improved stimulus discrimination and the involuntary attention towards auditory cues with the high expected value
    Keywords: expected value, auditory cortex, neuroplasticity, EEG, mismatch negativity, MMN, P300
    JEL: Z
    Date: 2015
  2. By: Nikita A. Novikov (National Research University Higher School of Economics); Dmitri V. Bryzgalov (National Research University Higher School of Economics); Anna A. Lapina (National Research University Higher School of Economics); Boris V. Chernyshev (National Research University Higher School of Economics)
    Abstract: Successful performance in complex tasks depends upon the functioning of the cognitive control system involving the maintenance of sustained attention, retention and activation of task rules, as well as the inhibition of preliminary responses. Failure of any of these functions can lead to performance errors. In this study, we investigated behavioral data obtained from participants performing the auditory condensation task, which is highly demanding of the level of cognitive control but does not require participants to inhibit or override any prepotent automatic responses. We identified pre-error speeding and error slowing, while post-error slowing was not evident. Our results suggest that there are three factors contributing to the variability within the behavioral measures obtained. The first factor is related to the overall response latency, the second to the main individual mechanism of performance errors, and the third to the subject’s ability to increase motor threshold in the event of uncertainty and choice ambiguity. The data obtained evidence that the auditory condensation task is a promising model for studying cognitive control
    Keywords: condensation task, cognitive control, inter-individual differences, response latency
    JEL: Z
    Date: 2015
  3. By: Chinhui Juhn; Yona Rubinstein; C. Andrew Zuppann
    Abstract: We estimate the impact of increases in family size on childhood and adult outcomes using matched mother-child data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979. Using twins as an instrumental variable and panel data to control for omitted factors we find that families face a substantial quantity-quality trade-off: increases in family size decrease parental investment, decrease childhood cognitive abilities, and increase behavioral problems. The negative effects on cognitive abilities are much larger for girls while the detrimental effects on behavior are larger for boys. We also find evidence of heterogeneous effects by mother's AFQT score, with the negative effects on cognitive scores being much larger for children of mothers with low AFQT scores.
    JEL: J13 J24
    Date: 2015–12
  4. By: Balart, Pau (University of the Balearic Islands); Oosterveen, Matthijs (Erasmus University Rotterdam); Webbink, Dinand (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
    Abstract: Many studies have found a strong association between economic outcomes of nations and their performance on international cognitive tests. This association is often interpreted as evidence for the importance of cognitive skills for economic growth. However, noncognitive skills, such as motivation and perseverance, are also important for the performance on cognitive tests. This study decomposes the performance on an international test (PISA) into two components that differ with respect to their underlying skills: the starting level and the decline in performance during the test. The first component can be interpreted as a measure of cognitive skills, whereas the second component captures noncognitive skills. We find that countries differ in the starting level and in the decline in performance, and that these differences are stable over time. Both components have a positive and statistically significant association with economic growth, and the estimated effects are quite similar. This suggests that noncognitive skills are important for explaining the relationship between test scores and economic growth.
    Keywords: cognitive skills, noncognitive skills, long run economic growth
    JEL: J24
    Date: 2015–12
  5. By: Schmitt, Rebecca
    Abstract: This paper provides a descriptive decision model that is based on a single behavioral pattern: human beings strive for consistency between what they do, what they think and what they perceive. This pattern manifests in the decision maker’s aim to bring his attitudes, beliefs and behavior into balance. Drawing principally on the theory of cognitive dissonance by Festinger (1957), the model shows how the concept of attitudes and the concept of preferences are interwoven by the human need for consistency. It closes the conceptual gap between preferences and attitudes. The model is an alternative approach to additive utility models, such as the one by Fehr and Schmidt (1999). Models of this class are not capable of explaining behavioral discontinuities in the mini ultimatum game. In contrast, the attitude-based model covers this behavioral pattern.
    Keywords: Preference Formation, Attitudes, Cognitive Dissonance, Preference Reversal, Additive Utility, Ultimatum Game
    JEL: C7 D11 Z1
    Date: 2015–09

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