NEW JOURNAL EDITOR
A home base for
The new Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology and Economics editors,
Daniel Houser and Bernd Weber, will bring together disparate
researchers to answer the tough questions.
BY CHRISTEN BROWNLEE
Are people more likely to make impulse purchases when they’re hungry? What
brain structures are most involved
when people make bad stock-
market bets? And why does growing
up poor cause some people to be
misers and others to be spendthrifts?
As an editorial team, Houser
and Weber know about cross-disciplinary collaboration firsthand.
Houser, an economist, studies
behavioral economics at George
Mason University and Weber, a
neurologist, studies individual
differences in economic behavior at
the University of Bonn in Germany.
In addition to working together
on the journal, the scientists are
collaborating on a project to
understand the neural factors that
affect whether we choose to trust another person to act in our
best interest, such as a seller on eBay. So far, they’ve found
that when deciding whether someone is trustworthy, the brain
quiets distracting emotions through increased activation in
the ventral medial prefrontal cortex. In contrast, the brain can
keep emotions at bay during other kinds of economic decisions
by taking a more cognitive route, through increased activation
in the dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex. This line of research
provides new insight into why — and how — being duped by
a charlatan is so upsetting, and how our brains have evolved to
avoid being tricked.
“For years, neuroscientists, psychologists and economists
tried to solve research questions in their own way,” Weber says.
“With JNPE, we have a new way to bring everyone together —
to advance the science of human decision-making in ways we’ve
never had available to us before.” n
Christen Brownlee is a writer in Boston.