Public Policy and the Brain exploratory seminar

On September 20–21, 2013, Cass R. Sunstein, Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard Law School, and Tali Sharot, Wellcome Trust Career Development Fellow at University College London, led an exploratory seminar at the Radcliffe Institute titled "Public Policy and the Human Brain."

This seminar brought together neuroscientists, economists, psychologists, lawyers, and public policy analysts to explore what is being learned about the brain, and how this knowledge might bear on economic analysis, law, and public policy.


Sian L. Beilock, University of Chicago
Benedetto de Martino, Royal Holloway University of London
Paul W. Glimcher, New York University
Joshua D. Greene, Harvard University
Eric J. Johnson, Columbia University
David Laibson, Harvard University
Jennifer S. Lerner, Harvard University
Drazen Prelac, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Laurie Santos, Yale University
Tali Sharot, University College London
Cass R. Sunstein, Harvard University
Michael P. Vandenbergh, Vanderbilt University
Y. Clair Wang, Columbia University
Elke Weber, Columbia University
Nicholas D. Wright, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Daw-An Wu, California Institute of Technology
Richard Zeckhauser
, Harvard University


Recommended Resources:

These papers were recommended by participants in the seminar.

From Cass R. Sunstein (seminar co-organizer), Robert Walmsley University Professor, Harvard Law School

Is Deontology A Heuristic? On Psychology, Neuroscience, Ethics, and Law” (Preliminary draft September 1, 2013)
Cass R. Sunstein

From Tali Sharot (seminar co-organizer), Wellcome Trust Career Development Fellow, Department of Cognitive, Perceptual & Brain Sciences, University College London

The Optimism Bias
Tali Sharot
Publication: Current Biology 21, no. 23 (June 2011): R941-945. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.10.030

How Unrealistic Optimism is Maintained in the Face of Reality
Tali Sharot, Christoph W. Korn, and Raymond J. Dolan
Publication: Natural Neuroscience 14, no. 11 (November 2011): 1475-1479. DOI: 10.1038/nn.2949

Selectively Altering Belief Formation in the Human Brain” 
Tali Sharot, Ryota Kanai, David Marston, Christoph W. Korn, Geraint Rees, and Raymond J. Dolan
Publication: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109, no. 42 (October 2012): 17058–17062. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1205828109

Human Development of the Ability to Learn from Bad News” 
Christina Moutsiana, Neil Garrett, Richard C. Clarke, R. Beau Lotto, Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, and Tali Sharot
Publication: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition (approved July 29, 2013, received for review March 24, 2013). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1305631110

From Sian L. Beilock, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Principal Investigator, Human Performance Lab, the University of Chicago

Math Anxiety: Who Has It, Why It Develops, and How to Guard Against It” 
Erin A. Maloney and Sian L. Beilock
Publication: Trends in Cognitive Sciences 16, no. 8 (August 2012): 404-406.

From Joshua D. Greene, John and Ruth Hazel Associate Professor of the Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Harvard University

Moral Judgments Recruit Domain-General Valuation Mechanisms to Integrate Representations of Probability and Magnitude
Amitai Shenhav and Joshua D. Greene
Publication: Neuron 67 (August 2010): 667-677. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2010.07.020

Causal Knowledge and Imitation/Emulation Switching in Chimpanzees (Pan Troglodytes) and Children (Homo Sapiens)
Victoria Horner and Andrew Whiten
Publication: Animal Cognition 8 (2005): 164-181. DOI 10.1007/s10071-004-0239-6

The Social Sense: Susceptibility to Others’ Beliefs in Human Infants and Adults
Ágnes Melinda Kovács, Ernö Téglás, and Ansgar Denis Endress
Publication: Science 330 (2010): 1830-1834. DOI: 10.1126/science.1190792