Neuronal Utility and Choice by an Organism
Salvador Valdés; Gonzalo Valdés-Edwards
Documento de Trabajo IE-PUC, N° 465, 2015.
Abstract: This paper presents a theory of choice that yields a set of new predictions about behavior when compared to the expected utility model, encompassing the existence of automatic responses and attentional biases. A formula comparable to the one of expected utility is identified. Under certain restrictive conditions identified here, the aggregate behavior of this brain model is equivalent to the one proposed by the expected utility model. This theory of choice is based on the concept of a race between different processes that occur in parallel inside the brain of an organism, run by different groups of neurons. Action is defined by the outcome of this competition, which is won by the process that is completed first. The time it takes for one process to finish the race is a function of the desirability it evokes, but additionally depends on the length of the neuron chain and how the sensory system reacts to information.
Keywords: Expected Utility, Neuroeconomics, Decision-making, Economics of neural activity, Cognitive Psychology