Valuable Decisions

by Kimm Fesenmaier

You’ve just finished eating a healthy, balanced meal and are now faced with two dessert options: a slice of ooey, gooey chocolate cake or a nutritious fruit cup. After considering your choices, and with a bit of a sigh, you reach for the fruit cup. It’s not the most exciting decision you will ever make—you make many like it every day. Still, your brain received sensory information and, after a bit, you acted on it. But what happened in between? What transpired in your brain before you actually picked up the more healthful option?

That mysterious in-between is the focus of a fledgling field known as neuroeconomics, or decision neuroscience. Neuroeconomists recognize that while decision making is complex and a bit messy, it is also so central to our daily lives that a better understanding could greatly enhance our grasp of human nature.

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