Neuroeconomics: studying decision-making in an economic context

June 13 - 14, 2019

Strasbourg (France)


Why raising the price of a bottle of wine makes it taste better?

This is typically the kind of question that would interest both wine retailers and researchers in taste perception.

Now, the team of Antonio Rangel in Bethesda discovered that, if the judgement of wine drinkers on their tasting experience is altered by the knowledge they have of the product, it is not because they are inferring the quality of the wine based on its price but rather that they are actually experiencing a more flavourful wine (Rangel et al., 2008). The group observed that, during the experience, the activity of the medial orbitofrontal cortex of wine tasters (an area thought to encode for experienced pleasantness) was increased when drinkers had the information of a more expensive wine.
This study not only showed that the marketing actions can modulate neural correlates, but also demonstrates that the human consuming behaviour is not necessarily rational. In this sense, the result confirms observations made by Daniel Kahneman, a psychologist, and Richard Thaler, an economist, who were both awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002 and 2017 respectively for showing that humans are predictably irrational in ways that defy the Homo oeconomicus theory.

The discipline of neuroeconomics arose at the end of the 90s when mathematics solely became insufficient to the economists to explain the behaviour of some "economic agents" or even to explain more global economic phenomena. The biological approach then became necessary as emotion factors appeared crucial in those decision-making processes. Sociology latter joined in as studies showed that the individuals tended to modify their behaviour within a group (e.g. herd mimetic behaviour in speculative market). In return, the economics science provided a new approach with experimental standardized paradigms and tools to study the human behaviour when learning and practicing social exchange and cooperation.
In short, the agreement was that economists provided paradigms and neuroscientists provided the classic neurobiology tools such as fMRI or eye tracking systems to decipher the cerebral mechanisms underlying the consumer’s behaviour.
This is for the wedding picture.
In practice, the relationship between both fields is more complex. First, the limitation to interpret results obtained with imaging techniques constitutes a first obstacle to the development of the discipline. Second, the relevance of the findings has also been questioned by some economists as the scientifc gain of this disciplinary hybridization benefited mostly to the neuroscience field so far. Finally, the ethical implications (e.g. mercantile usage of equipments designed for the research or using theories and techniques to influence the consumers’ behaviour and the purchase process) also raise crucial questions.

The multidisciplinary Neurex workshop will gather experts from economics, neuroscience, psychiatry, and psychology, philosophy, finance and marketing, who will present their findings, concerns and perspectives on their research and on the discipline in general.

This Neurex workshop is co-funded by the University of Strasbourg Institute for Advanced Study (USIAS), the Neuropole and the University of Strasbourg.


     8.30-09.00 Registration – Welcome coffee

     09.00-09.15 Welcome address



Chairman: Camillo PADOA-SCHIOPPA

09.20-10.00     Christian SCHMIDT (Paris, France)

Neuroeconomics, brief history and future prospects

10.00-10.40     Alan KIRMAN (Paris, France)

Helping us to understand individual and collective economic behavior:

the role of the neurosciences

     10.40-11.00     Coffee break



Chairman: Alan KIRMAN

11.10-11.50     Peiran JIAO (Maastricht, the Netherlands)

The Bull of Wall Street: experimental analysis of testosterone and asset trading

11.50-12.30     Aiste SEIBOKAITE-AMBRASE (Tübingen, Germany)

Sex hormones, decision-making and the brain

      12.30-13.30 Lunch break

13.30-14.10     André SCHMITT (Strasbourg, France)

Behavioral finance: the disposition bias and the overconfidence bias



Chairman: Sébastien BALLESTA

14.10-14.50     Camillo PADOA-SCHIOPPA (St Louis, USA)

A Neural Circuit for Economic Decisions

 14.50-15.20     Peter DAYAN (Tübingen, Germany)

Savouring and its Modulation by Prediction Errors

      15.20-15.50 Coffee break

15.50-16.30     Jan ENGELMANN (Amsterdam, the Netherlands)

Incidental aversive affect distorts the neural circuitry underlying decision-making

16.30-17.10     Irma KURNIAWAN (Zürich, Switzerland)

The influence of past actions in value-based decisions




Modérateur: Jean-Christophe CASSEL

Thomas BORAUD (Bordeaux, France)

Comment notre cerveau prend-il des décisions ?






Chairman: Peter DAYAN

 08.30-09.10     Gisèle UMBHAUER (Strasbourg, France)

The travelers’ dilemma: how the value of the luggage influences the behavior

09.10-09.50     Sebastian GLUTH (Basel, Switzerland)

Violations of economic rationality in reinforcement learning  

      09.50-10.20 Coffee break

10.20-11.00     Kai-Markus MÜLLER (Stuttgart, Germany)

Commercial applications of neuroeconomics

11.00-11.40     Thomas BORAUD (Bordeaux, France)

A natural history of cognitive skills

11.40-12.20     Jens HARBECKE (Witten, Germany)

Social Neuroeconomics (the INSOSCI European project)

      12.20-13.30 Lunch


Strasbourg, 13-14th of June 2019.

Venue: MISHA, allée Rouvillois


Deadline for Registration : June 1st, 2019