Almanac

Community - June 2, 2010

At SRI: Before opening wallet, check emotions

Human emotion and its possible role in financial decisions will be the topic for June's Cafe Scientifique, the monthly presentation and discussion at SRI International in Menlo Park and set for 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 8.

In a talk called "This is Your Brain on Money," Stanford University psychology professor Brian Knutson will review recent findings in neuroscience that suggest that the region of the brain associated with pleasure, addiction, fear, aggression and laughter is also closely associated with investing and purchasing decisions.

The findings may help explain gyrations in financial markets, according to a statement from Cafe Scientifique. Another possible useful outcome: predicting an individual's behavior when confronted with a financial decision.

The research is an outgrowth of experiments from the 1950s in which a rat pressed a lever that stimulated its pleasure circuit — the region of its brain associated with emotions — and demonstrated that it would rather press that lever than eat, drink, sleep or have sex, the statement said.

Professor Knutson's research into the neurological underpinnings of human choice includes brain scans of people in the act of making investment and shopping decisions.

Doors open at 5:15 p.m. at the headquarters of SRI Menlo Park in the International Building at Middlefield Road and Ringwood Ave.

Go to www.cafescisv.org for more information.

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