Recent advances in neuroimaging have significantly increased our understanding of how decisions are made. However, questions remain regarding the scalability of conclusions derived from these studies. In particular, do findings from decision neuroscience provide meaningful insights about the way people behave in the real world? In this project, we study if and how the brain predicts choices on the level of the market or society at large.
In the past, research in neuroscience has used decontextualized stimuli and highly artificial experimental designs to study the neural substrate of cognitive processes. Although this approach has been very successful, it has left open the question of how the brain responds to events in more naturalistic settings. In this line of research, we address this issue by investigating how brain processes unfold during movie watching.
The human psyche pretty much remains a black box: we can observe or even manipulate the input a person’s psychological system receives, but not the feelings or cognitive processes that are evoked by this input. Likewise, we can observe the decisions made by the system, but not the feelings or cognitive processes that drove these decisions. In this line of research, we decode these latent processes or states from the brain.
In this line of research, we use fMRI, EEG, and hormone administration to investigate how the brain orchestrates decisions in the social domain. We focus on such diverse phenomena as social influence, conformity, fairness, charitable giving, trust, dishonesty, and in-group/out-group differences.
In recent years, research in decision neuroscience has delineated a network in the brain involved in valuation and choice, consisting of the striatum, medial prefrontal cortex and associated areas. However, it is clear that consumer choices under natural conditions are never made in isolation and depend on the context.