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Comparing Apples and Oranges: The Neurocomputation of Value

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Most of the decisions we make are value-based choices, and these range from the most trivial ones (“What should I have for lunch?”) to the most important choices that we make in our lives (“Shall I sell my house?” “Shall I have this surgical procedure”). In order to make value-based choices the brain needs to compute a common value currency that allows this type of comparison. These value estimates are strongly dependent on the internal state and goals of the decision-maker. In my talk I will discuss how the brain performs such computations and how in turn these computations shape choice. I will demonstrate how these computations are flexible and highly susceptible to contextual information (e.g. how options are presented) and social signals (e.g. the intentions of other people), and how this impact on the quality of choice. I will then highlight how this process can have dramatic consequences when people interact in complex modern institutions like financial markets.

This talk is part of the Zangwill Club series.

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