Public Policy and the Brain

September 2013

The last decade has seen an extraordinary outpouring of academic and popular work on behavioral science (including behavioral economics). This work has had a large effect on both public policy and public discussion. In this general area, some of the most interesting and important current work goes well beyond behavioral findings to investigate the operations of the human brain. This seminar brings together the best neuroscientists, economists, psychologists, lawyers, and public policy analysts to explore what is being learned about the brain, and how what is being learned might bear on economic analysis, law, and public policy. With this seminar, we have four main goals. First, we hope to obtain an understanding of the state of the art—of what is known and what is unknown. Second, we hope to spur new research that would be valuable in advancing our understanding of the area. Third, we hope to produce research that would, in the fullness of time, bear on actual policy choices. While neuroscientists and economists have been brought together on several occasions in recent years, we are aware of no sustained work connecting these domains with public policy. Fourth, and depending on how the discussion goes, we hope to be able to produce a collection of essays on this topic, collecting the best past and current research.

See: Public Policy and the Brain: Supplemental Resources