The biological underpinnings of economic behavior
Speech at the seminar by Evgenia LukinovaPostdoctoral Fellow, Erich Lab,Institute of Brain and Cognitive Sciences NYU-ECNU, New York, Shanghai, China
To what extent does genetic influence on economic behavior matter and can be enhanced or weakened by environmental factors? The answer to this question will help to understand the main biological pathways of economic behavior. Eugenia's report addressed this issue, taking it apart. She first showed some preliminary results from her Shanghai lab on how environmental factors caused by stress influence decision making. In this study, she used students and participants from China in general with economic tasks and stress questionnaires, and collected and analyzed saliva and hair samples. Stress questionnaires track signs of "stress" or measure perceived stress, saliva samples provide a measure of cortisol concentration at a specific point in time, and hair cortisol can correspond to chronic stress. She went on to share the work of her colleagues on how rodents can be stressed through physical restraint or pharmacology and whether this alters their behavior in the risk task. Finally, she discussed the existing genetic associations with risks and timing preferences, summarizing recent (GWAS studies across the entire genomic association) work.
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