Global Expert to Speak on Advances in Neuroeconomics
On March 25, Samuel McClure, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, will give a lecture called ‘Neuroeconomics: Cognitive and Neural Processes in Delay Discounting’ at HSE. Organized by the Centre for Cognition & Decision Making, the event will cover delay discounting, as well as the work that has been done to understand the cognitive and neural processes that give rise to delay discounting and hence the dimensions along which delay discount rates vary.
Samuel McClure recently agreed to speak with the HSE news service about his research and what he aims to accomplish in terms of collaboration with specialists at HSE.
— Your field of research is fascinating for those of us who are interested in modern science and economics. Can you explain what neuroeconomics is in simple terms?
— Neuroeconomics tries to understand how decisions are made in terms of how the brain functions. We know that people have tendencies and biases when evaluating the world. The main question in neuroeconomics is why these patterns of behaviour exist and how the brain gives rise to them.
— Why is it important to understand the cognitive and neural processes in delay discounting?
— Delay discounting is the fundamental process that allows us to resist temptation and distractions so as to behave in accordance with long-term goals. Differences in delay discounting have been related to academic and professional performance. Understanding how delay discounting works both behaviourally and in terms of brain function should enable better approaches for combatting self-control problems and better recommendations for how to live a happier and healthier life.
— Understanding the way the brain works is groundbreaking new science. How much can researchers in different countries help one another to make advances?
— Groundbreaking science depends on the infusion of diverse, new ideas. This always happens better when input comes from around the world.
— Your research makes me think of behavioural experiments on animals - Pavlov’s dogs for example. Is it a mistake to say that you are less interested in the human and more in the animal side of us as beings?
— Studying the uniquely human parts of cognition is very difficult! We have much more insight into those processes that are shared with other animals.
— Does your work draw on Ivan Pavlov in some ways?
— Yes, the entire field of neuroeconomics actually draws heavily from Pavlov’s work
— How did you become interested in neuroeconomics and build a career as a scientist? Were you interested first in neuroscience and then economics or the other way around?
— I was first drawn to neuroscience, then decision-making, and then formal models of behaviour (i.e., economics) last.
— Is this your first visit to Russia?
— Yes! I can’t wait!
— Do you have plans to cooperate on research projects with HSE?
— I am a big fan of Vasily Klucharev’s work and would be thrilled to collaborate on research projects with him or others at HSE.
Anna Chernyakhovskaya, specially for the HSE English language news service
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