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HEURISTICS USED BY HUMANS WITH PREFRONTAL CORTEX DAMAGE: TOWARD AN EMPIRICAL MODEL OF PHINEAS GAGE

Daniel Houser (), Kevin McCabe (), Michael Keane () and Antoine Bechara
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Antoine Bechara: University of Iowa

Experimental from EconWPA

Abstract: In many research contexts it is necessary to group experimental subjects into behavioral “types.” Usually, this is done by pre-specifying a set of candidate decision-making heuristics and then assigning each subject to the heuristic that best describes his/her behavior. Such approaches might not perform well when used to explain the behavior of subjects with prefrontal cortex damage. The reason is that introspection is typically used to generate the candidate heuristic set, but this procedure is likely to fail when applied to the decision-making strategies of subjects with brain damage. This research uses the type classification approach introduced by Houser, Keane and McCabe (2002) to investigate the heuristics used by subjects in the gambling experiment (Bechara, Damasio, Damasio and Anderson, 1994). An advantage of our classification approach is that it does not require us to specify the nature of subjects’ heuristics in advance. Rather, both the number and nature of the heuristics used are discerned directly from the experimental data. Our sample includes normal subjects, as well as subjects with damage to the ventromedial (VM) area of the prefrontal cortex. Subjects are “clustered” according to similarities in their heuristic, and this clustering does not preclude some normal and VM subjects from using the same decision rule. Our results are consistent with what others have found in subsequent experimentation with VM patients.

Keywords: experiments; heuristics; neuroeconomics; behavioral economics (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C91 D84 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe and nep-exp
Date: 2003-08-11
Note: Type of Document - pdf; prepared on IBM PC ; to print on PostScript; pages: 18; figures: included
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Persistent link: http://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:wpa:wuwpex:0308002

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