Tobias Hauser (UCL)
Title: Variability in decision making: Where does it come from and what does it tell us about the brain?
Humans are consistently inconsistent. Even when facing identical choice options, they often make self-contradictory choices. Since the early days of psychology and behavioural economics, we discard this variability as some form of measurement imprecision, and we dedicate separate noise modules in our computational models to soak up what we cannot explain. In my talk, I will show that by ignoring behavioural variability, we fail to investigate meaningful signal that provides critical insights in the neurocomputational mechanisms underlying behaviour. I will show pharmacological evidence for the role of dopamine and noradrenaline in behavioural variability, and how they are related to different forms of exploration. I will then discuss how endogenous fluctuations of the dopaminergic midbrain can directly influence risk taking variability. My talk will portray how behavioural variability can be used to better understand cognitive and brain function.