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Explaining Irrationality – a Biological Perspective

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Peter Humphreys.

Normative accounts of learning suggest that choice behaviour should follow an expected utility model. Everyday reality, behavioural and economic observations, highlight pervasive violations of such optimality. I will first outline a standard view of learning and then consider examples of irrational influences on behaviour. For example, when a decision maker weighs the relative value of future and immediate rewards and when a decision maker chooses between options where these are framed as a win or a loss. Violations of rationality in these circumstances can be accounted for by a model that proposes interacting brain systems that subsumes a goal-oriented, a habitual and Pavlovian controller. I will suggest that an influence of the latter, particularly when its operation engenders an opposition to other controllers, provides a good low level explanation of what is often conceived as a high level problem. Finally, I will propose that some of the phenomena I describe captures core components of phenomena seen in psychopathology.

There will be a wine reception after the talk with the guest speaker.

Free for members, £2 for non-members

This talk is part of the Cambridge University Physics Society series.

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