nep-neu New Economics Papers
on Neuroeconomics
Issue of 2016‒08‒21
five papers chosen by

  1. Adverse Outcome Pathway on chronic binding of antagonist to N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDARs) during brain development induces impairment of learning and memory abilities By Magdalini Sachana; Sharon Munn; Anna Bal-Price
  2. Personality Traits and the Gender Gap in Ideology By Rebecca Morton; Jean-Robert Tyran; Erik Wengström
  3. Gifts and Goals: Behavioral Nudges to Improve Child Food Choice at School By Anya Samek
  4. The Impact of Self-Control on Investment Decisions By Lucks, Konstantin
  5. Synopsis, Childhood shocks, safety nets and cognitive skills: Panel data evidence from rural Ethiopia By Berhane, Guush; Abay, Mehari Hiluf; Woldehanna, Tassew

  1. By: Magdalini Sachana; Sharon Munn; Anna Bal-Price
    Abstract: It is well documented and accepted that learning and memory processes rely on physiological functioning of the glutamate receptor N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDAR). Both animal and human studies investigating NMDA itself, experiments with NMDAR antagonists and mutant mice lacking NMDAR subunits strongly support this statement (Rezvani, 2006). Activation of NMDARs results in long-term potentiation (LTP), which is related to increased synaptic strength, plasticity and memory formation in the hippocampus (Johnston et al., 2009). LTP induced by activation of NMDA receptors has been found to be elevated in the developing rodent brain compared to the mature brain, partially due to 'developmental switch' of the NMDAR 2A and 2B subunits (Johnston et al., 2009). Activation of the NMDAR also enhances brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) release, which promotes neuronal survival, differentiation and synaptogenesis (Tyler et al., 2002; Johnston et al., 2009). Consequently, the blockage of NMDAR by chemical substances during synaptogenesis disrupts neuronal network formation resulting in the impairment of learning and memory processes (Toscano and Guilarte, 2005). This AOP is relevant to developmental neurotoxicity (DNT). The molecular initiating event (MIE) is described as the chronic binding of antagonist to NMDAR in neurons during synaptogenesis (development) in hippocampus (one of the critical brain structures for learning and memory formation). One of the chemicals that blocks NMDAR after chronic exposure is lead (Pb2+), a well-known developmental neurotoxicant.
    Keywords: N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR), impairment of learning and memory, developmental neurotoxicity
    Date: 2016–08–13
  2. By: Rebecca Morton (Department of Politics, NYU NYC); Jean-Robert Tyran (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen); Erik Wengström (Department of Economics, Lund University, Sweden)
    Abstract: What explains the gender gap in ideology, i.e. the observation that women tend to be more leftist than men? We provide new evidence showing that personality traits play a key role. Using a novel high-quality data set, we show that the mediating (i.e. indirect) effects of gender operating through personality traits by far dominate the direct effects of gender. They also dominate other potential differences between the sexes like income or education as explanatory factors. Our findings suggest that women tend to be more leftist than men mainly because they have different personalities, which, in turn, shape their expressed ideology. Taking such mediating effects of personality traits into account explains over three quarters of the observed gender gap in general ideological preferences.
    Keywords: Personality traits, political preference, gender
    JEL: C12 D79
    Date: 2016–08–15
  3. By: Anya Samek
    Abstract: The rising childhood obesity rate calls for interventions aimed at improving child food choice, and one recent innovation is the use of behavioral 'nudges.' We conducted a field experiment with over 1,400 children to measure the impact of interventions based on two behavioral theories: reciprocity and theories of self-control. The interventions were implemented in the classroom prior to observing choices between a healthy and less healthy milk choice in the cafeteria. We found that small, unconditional gifts (triggering reciprocity) increased the choice of the healthier milk by 15 percentage points relative to a control group. Giving the option to set a goal (an internal commitment device) was most effective for the younger children and increased the choice of the healthier milk by 10 percentage points. About two thirds of children made a goal to select the healthier milk, and almost 90 percent followed through with their goal. We also see an impact of health information delivered by teachers. Our results have implications for policy and practice, since low cost interventions implemented at school may have an impact on what kids choose to eat and in turn on obesity rates.
    Date: 2016
  4. By: Lucks, Konstantin
    Abstract: This paper explores how reduced self-control affects individual investment behavior in two laboratory tasks. For this purpose, I exogenously reduce subjects’ self-control using a well-established psychological treatment. In each task, I find no significant main treatment effect, but secondary effects consistent with findings on self-control from other studies and self-control’s potential relevance in financial markets. In experiment 1, I find no significant change in the disposition effect following the manipulation. However, treated participants trade fewer different shares per round. In experiment 2, I look at the effect of self-control on myopic loss aversion by implementing a 2×2 design by varying investment horizon and self-control in a repeated lottery environment. Average behavior suggests that reduced self-control increases framing effects, but I cannot reject the null hypothesis of equal investment levels between the self-control treatments within each investment frame. Analyzing the dynamics of decision making in more detail, self-control depleted participants in the narrow frame reduce their investment levels on average over time which seems to be driven by more intense reactions to investment experiences.
    Keywords: Self-control, loss aversion, disposition effect, trade clustering, myopic loss aversion
    JEL: D53 D81 G02 G11
    Date: 2016–07–19
  5. By: Berhane, Guush; Abay, Mehari Hiluf; Woldehanna, Tassew
    Abstract: Using child-level panel data from rural areas of Ethiopia, we analyze effects of both economic and non-economic shocks on child cognition skills measured after the early childhood age window. We identify that drought, in particular, reduces child cognitive skills markedly. Food price inflation during the study period and divorce also have significant adverse effects on cognition. Promisingly, we find that the safety net program established by the Ethiopian government in 2005 to protect households from the economic effects of such shocks mitigated the reduction in cognitive skills associated with these shocks
    Keywords: ETHIOPIA, EAST AFRICA, AFRICA SOUTH OF SAHARA, AFRICA, Children, Health, rural areas, social protection, safety nets, shocks, Cognitive skills, difference in differences,
    Date: 2016

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