A Big Brother in the brain: neuroeconomics of social influence on our decision-making
On 19th of June has been held seminar from series "Culture Matters" with new Dean of Psychology department Vasily Klucharev. He presented a report on following topic: "A Big Brother in the brain: neuroeconomics of social influence on our decision-making". Neuroeconomics is a new field that combines economics, psychology and neuroscience.
As neuroeconomists, Vasily Klyucharev and his colleagues propose new, interdisciplinary approach to studies of majority influence on decision-making. Behavior of each person is under strong influence of others. What exactly happens in the brain of a man who does not behave like majority?
In recent years, neuroscience has demonstrated the existence of neurobiological mechanisms of conformism, i.e. tendency to change one's own opinion according to majority's opinion. Dopamine system is responsible for coding the value of a decision by brain, and at the same time, the value of a decision is a key concept of classical economic theory of decision-making. Neurons, rich with dopamine, affect on the change of opinion.
In their study, V. Klyucharev et al. showed to respondents faces for evaluation and provoked conflict with "majority opinion" (which was pre-programmed). Brain activity was measured with the help of special devices. Findings of the study supported statement that dopamine system can really cause changes in human's opinion, if signals (in this case - influence of the majority) are strong enough.
Moreover, neurobiological methods allowed researchers change human behavior by making a man temporarily more (or less) inclined to change his/her opinion. Experiments with magnetic stimulation of dopamine area of the brain showed that proportion of people, which would change their opinion under the pressure of majority opinion, was reducing for 40 percent.
One can say that expected value of decision is given by dopamine system, which helps us better adapt to the environment.
Presentation of lecture