In studying the brain activity of test subjects as they decided to make either generous or selfish choices in range of circumstances, Caltech researchers found that a simple computational model could explain and understand altruistic behavior.
The process of learning requires the sophisticated ability to constantly update our expectations of future rewards so we may make accurate predictions about those rewards in the face of a changing environment. Although exactly how the brain orchestrates this process remains unclear, a new study by researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) suggests that a combination of two distinct learning strategies guides our behavior.
Parents pursuing adoption within the United States have strong preferences regarding the types of babies they will apply for, tending to choose non-African-American girls, and favoring babies who are close to being born as opposed to those who have already been born or who are early in gestation. These preferences are significant and can be quantified in terms of the amount of money the potential adoptive parents are willing to pay in finalizing their adoption.
The human brain is a big believer in equality—and a team of scientists from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, has become the first to gather the images to prove it. Specifically, the team found that the reward centers in the human brain respond more strongly when a poor person receives a financial reward than when a rich person does.
A collaborative team of neuroscientists at Caltech, the University of Iowa, the University of Southern California, and the Autonomous University of Madrid have mapped the brain structures that affect general intelligence. The study, published the week of February 22 in the early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, adds new insight to a highly controversial question: What is intelligence, and how can we measure it?
Caltech neuroscientists and their colleagues have tied the human aversion to losing money to a specific structure in the brain—the amygdala. The finding, described in the latest online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, offers insight into economic behavior, and also into the role of the amygdala, which registers rapid emotional reactions and is implicated in depression, anxiety, and autism.
Economists and neuroscientists from Caltech have shown that they can use information obtained through fMRI measurements of whole-brain activity to create feasible, efficient, and fair solutions to one of the stickiest dilemmas in economics, the public goods free-rider problem—long thought to be unsolvable. This is one of the first-ever applications of neurotechnology to real-life economic problems, the researchers note.
In a finding that sheds new light on the neural mechanisms involved in social behavior, neuroscientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have pinpointed the brain structure responsible for our sense of personal space. The discovery, described in the August 30 issue of the journal Nature Neuroscience, could offer insight into autism and other disorders where social distance is an issue.
When you're on a diet, deciding to skip your favorite calorie-laden foods and eat something healthier takes a whole lot of self-control--an ability that seems to come easier to some of us than others. Now, scientists from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have uncovered differences in the brains of people who are able to exercise self-control versus those who find it almost impossible.
Scientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have trained computers to automatically analyze aggression and courtship in fruit flies, opening the way for researchers to perform large-scale, high-throughput screens for genes that control these innate behaviors.
When it comes to intellectual curiosity and creativity, a market economy in which inventors can buy and sell shares of the key components of their discoveries actually beats out the winner-takes-all world of patent rights as a motivating force, according to a California Institute of Technology (Caltech)-led team of researchers.