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The Neurology of Decision Making: How Neuroscience can

39 pages
The Neurology of Decision- Making: How Neuroscience can Enrich Research on Decision Making Antoine Bechara

  • rational process -emotion

  • decision making

  • emotion can

  • accurately -professionals extrapolate future

  • processes between

  • improve decision-making

  • sound decisions

  • affect emotion

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The Neurology of Decision-
Making: How Neuroscience can
Enrich Research on Decision
Antoine Bechara Most of us are taught from early on that :
-logical, rational calculation forms the basis of
sound decisions.
-Emotion can only cloud the mind and interfere
with good judgment.
-Investment analysis is a purely rational process
-Emotion leads to error.
The traditional view: A dichotomy between
rationality and emotionalism. -Professionals have superior control
over emotions
-Professionals determine past
trends more accurately
-Professionals extrapolate future
trends more reliably
-Professionals less subject to
overconfidence If these things are true, then:
Why does winning or losing the same amount of
money feel so different?
Why do analysts express high confidence in accuracy
of their forecasts despite a track record of predicting
Why does a stock that misses the consensus earnings
forecast by $0.01 lose billions in seconds?
Why do investors persist in finding patterns in random
data (Internet “eyeballs,” earnings growth “trends,”
technical “analysis”)? All this suggests that the classical approaches are insufficient to analyze and understand
phenomena seen in the markets, and it calls for novel interdisciplinary approaches.
The neuroscience of decision-making provides a neural “road map” for the intervening
physiological processes between knowledge and behavior, and the potential
interruptions that lead to a disconnection between what one knows and one does not.
Knowledge Decisions
Actions Cognition
Many of these intervening steps involve hidden physiological processes, and
neuroscience can enrich our understanding of a variety of decision-making
phenomena, which will potentially help us implement new interventions that
improve decision-making. Objectives:
Decisions Knowledg1. Show how brain
Actions damage that impairs eCognition
one’s ability to
emote, but keeps
one’s knowledge
Affect and cognition very
Emotion intact, leads to X Feelings behavioral decisions
that are
disadvantageous in
the long-term. 2. Show how the same
brain damage leads in
certain contexts to Decisions Knowledg
better behavioral Actions eCognition decisions that are in
more proximity to the
rational expected
utility predictions.
Affect 3. Addressing
Emotion solutions to the
puzzle: when X Feelings
emotions are helpful
and when are they
disruptive to the
overall process of
decision-making? 1. Emotion is Beneficial to Decision-Making:
Studies in Brain Damaged Patients
This research has focused on the decision-making
capabilities of patients who have suffered injury to the
frontal portions of their brain that sit above the eye
sockets (the orbitofrontal cortex). A brief history
Phineas Gage was a dynamite worker, and survived an
explosion that blasted an iron-tamping bar through the front of
his head.
Before the accident, Phineas Gage was a man of normal
intelligence, responsible, sociable, and popular among peers
and friends.
He survived this accident with normal intelligence, memory,
speech, sensation, and movement. However, his behavior
changed completely:
He became irresponsible and untrustworthy.
Impatient of restraint or advice when it conflicted with his
desires. Over the years, we studied many
patients like Phineas Gage, with
similar behavior and similar lesions.

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