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Combining brain and behavioral data to improve econometric policy analysis

Daniel Houser

No 1037, 2007 Meeting Papers from Society for Economic Dynamics

Abstract: From brain imaging data one obtains new economic theory with economically relevant policy implications. In particular, one would like to use data from a small number of subjects in an imaging experiment to predict a larger population’s response to proposed policy changes. This paper develops a method by which one can combine behavioral and imaging experiments’ data to provide empirical content to economic theory and improve econometric policy analysis. I develop probability bounds on the behavioral effects of a policy change, and show that these bounds depend on the probability that certain brain activation patterns are present. Moreover, I show that these activation probabilities can be estimated from a combination of behavioral and imaging experiments, so long as decisions in the behavioral experiment are sufficiently dependent on the activation patterns of interest.

Date: 2007
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