Game Theory Used to Study the Brain

Game theory is one of my favorite topics within economics because I enjoy thinking about the rational conclusions that each party can make in order to maximize utility. I recently watched a TED video about game theory. The speaker was Colin Camerer, who is a researcher that studied the ability of chimpanzees to play incentivized¬†games and compared their results to humans. The results showed that chimps were much better competitors in the games because their results were much closer to the nash equilibrium. Camerer also studied the brains of humans when they played games and found that there were different parts of the brain that were stimulated when strategizing about the outcomes. He also found neurological differences and similarities between people who thought one, two and three “steps” ahead. If you would like to watch the video you can find it here:¬†http://www.ted.com/talks/colin_camerer_neuroscience_game_theory_monkeys.html

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3 Responses to Game Theory Used to Study the Brain

  1. crufta says:

    It’s interesting to hear that chimps are better at attaining a Nash equilibrium than humans. Though not to discredit emotions in chimps, I wonder if the reason for this is a potential excess emotion in human decision making. Ideally, any time humans make a decision they should attempt to play the best outcome given their opponent’s best move. However, I think humans may bypass logic and give into other emotions, such as greed, leading them to disregard their opponent’s move in order to attempt achieving their optimal outcome. By giving in to such an emotion they can end up losing. Therefore, it seems to stand that it is not such an insult when somebody states something is “so easy a chimp could do it”.

  2. machacea says:

    I think you bring up a very interesting game theory topic. Chimps are one of the most closely related apes to humans, and it is interesting that they apparently are more empathetic and negotiate in a more cohesive way. Although chimps and humans are relatively similar, humans are mentally and emotionally more advanced than primates. So it would make sense that humans would not want to reach the NE because we are more greedy, self-interested, and think in the moment. Humans have a lot more incentives to think about than chimps, so these conflicting thoughts could cloud our judgements when deciding in strategic games.

  3. willicod says:

    It is a very interesting topic to think about. I agree with what was said above, that I think it brings out the greedy selfish nature of humans where chimps might not have the same problems. I think a lot of the reason humans don’t reach the NE is due to lack of trust from other players in the game. Simply stated, everyone expects the other person to be greedy so they, in turn, are greedy themselves.

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