Summary of Decisions, Uncertainty, and the Brain

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Decisions, Uncertainty, and the Brain book summary


8 Overall

5 Applicability

9 Innovation

6 Style


This book offers an outstanding survey of philosophy, psychology, brain science, economics, and the field that brings them all together, neuroeconomics. Paul W. Glimcher contends that Descartes’ deterministic theory that simple behavior operates according to reflexes is influential far beyond its merits. He describes numerous experiments that support a very different understanding of behavior, which says that organisms seeking to fulfill their own goals (mostly to perpetuate their genes) must “choose” behaviors that somehow account for risk and return. In other words, they maximize “inclusive fitness” under conditions of uncertainty. Laboratory experiments and field research by behavioral ecologists lend considerable support to this view. getAbstract recommends this solid, layman’s introduction to neuroeconomics and a remarkable series of discoveries.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How reflex theory was developed;
  • Why probability theory is important in understanding behavior; and
  • What the new science of neuroeconomics provides.

About the Author

Paul W. Glimcher is an associate professor of neural science and psychology at the Center for Neural Science at New York University.



Breaking Away from the Reflex
Scientists should be able to explain what happens in the brain and nerves to cause behavior. This is not a new proposition. René Descartes, Gottfried Leibniz, and Pierre-Simon Laplace all believed something similar. However, they belonged to a philosophical...

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