Introduction to Neuroeconomics: How the Brain Makes Decisions
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assignment Level : Introductory
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About the content

Economics, psychology, and neuroscience are converging today into a unified discipline of Neuroeconomics with the ultimate aim of creating a single, general theory of human decision-making. Neuroeconomics provides biologists, economists, psychologists and social scientists with a deeper understanding of how they make their own decisions and how others decide. Neuroscience, when allied with psychology and economics, creates powerful new models to explain why we make decisions. Neurobiological mechanisms of decision-making, decisions under risk, trust and cooperation will be central issues in this course. You will be provided with the most recent evidence from brain-imaging techniques (fMRI, TMS, etc.) and introduced to the explanatory models behind them. The course does not require any prior study of economics and neuroscience; however, it might require you to study novel interdisciplinary materials. The course provides an introduction to the methodology, assumptions, and main findings of Neuroeconomics. Our students have different backgrounds; therefore, I have adapted and simplified the course to allow all students to understand the interdisciplinary content. This course will help you to start your progress in the field of Neuroeconomics and to further develop your skills during other more advanced courses and trainings in the future. For some topics, the course will also provide supplementary videos to reveal the opinions of leading experts in the field. Each module provides optional reading material. The course structure is as follows: During each video, you will have to answer some relevant questions. Your answers will not affect your final grade. At the end of each module, you must complete a quiz consisting of 15 questions. To pass the course, you must reach a satisfactory standard in all the course modules by completing all graded quizzes and the final exam. In addition to watching video lectures and taking quizzes, you will receive an invitation to join our forum. We plan to join the discussions in the forum on a weekly basis. Welcome to Neuroeconomics World!

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  • Week 1 - Introduction to the Course
    Welcome to the new field of Neuroeconomics! I hope you have an opportunity to reserve some time to explore the course content, course logic and our grading policy. The course consists of nine lectures covering main topics of Neuroeconomics. This class is comp...
  • Week 1 - Introduction and Scope of Neuroeconomics
    This lecture will provide an introduction to the course and a historical overview of the field and will explore major assumptions of Neuroeconomics. We'll discuss the need for Neuroeconomics and the limitations of the traditional fields of economics, psycholog...
  • Week 2 - Neuroanatomy, Neurophysiology, and Neuroimaging: Tools of Neuroeconomics
    We will start with a short introduction to cognitive neuroscience, brain anatomy, and brain functions and continue with a discussion of various methods of measuring brain activity, including brain imaging methods (EEG, MEG, fMRI), transcranial brain stimulatio...
  • Week 3 - Introducing Brain Models of Decision-Making and Choice
    Now we will start our journey in Neuroeconomic theories and findings. You will learn the main features of the Diffusion Model, the most popular theoretical model of decision-making in Neuroeconomics. We will apply this model to single-neuron activity in a monk...
  • Week 4 - Neural Representation of Subjective Value
    Why do we make decisions? Perhaps we do so to activate our neurons. During this lecture, we will discuss how neurons assign values to different options during the decision-making process. We will also discuss the central role of the nucleus accumbens and orbit...
  • Week 5 - Affective Mechanisms of Decision-Making
    The influence of emotions on decision-making is largely ignored in decision theories. Our objective in this lecture is to explore the role of emotion in decision-making and to introduce theories and basic findings of Neuroeconomics in this context. For example...
  • Week 6 - Dual Process Theory of Decision-Making: Toward a Neuroeconomics Perspective
    Studies in Neuroeconomics have found evidence suggesting that the brain may employ multiple levels of processing when making decisions, and this conclusion is consistent with dual-processing theories that have received extensive theoretical consideration in th...
  • Week 7 - Decision-Making under Risk: Toward a Neuroeconomics Mechanism
    Many of our decisions involve uncertainty or imperfect knowledge about how our choices lead to outcomes. The important aspect of uncertainty most commonly considered by economists and neuroeconomists is risk, which refers to situations in which we know the pro...
  • Week 8 - The Social Brain: Games in the Brain
    Ancient Greek philosophers observed that we are fundamentally a social species. Indeed, the human brain has evolved to deal with complex social interactions. Day by day, we collectively analyze problems or situations and evaluate alternative courses of action ...
  • Week 9 - Evolutionary Perspective of Decision-Making
    Neuroeconomics investigates the origins of human decision-making by examining whether similar choice biases are seen in nonhuman primates, our closest phylogenetic relatives. Comparative studies can identify shared versus human-unique tendencies in decision-ma...
  • Week 9 - Final Exam
    This is the final quiz. To pass, you must answer at least 24 out of 30 questions correctly. Good luck with your exams!


Vasily Klucharev
Professor and Head of the Department of Psychology
Faculty of Social Sciences


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Higher School of Economics
National Research University - Higher School of Economics (HSE) is one of the top research universities in Russia. Established in 1992 to promote new research and teaching in economics and related disciplines, it now offers programs at all levels of university education across an extraordinary range of fields of study including business, sociology, cultural studies, philosophy, political science, international relations, law, Asian studies, media and communications, IT, mathematics, engineering, and more. Learn more on



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