The Neuroscience of Risky Decision Making

Pages: 214
Item #: 4318125
ISBN: 978-1-4338-1662-8
List Price: $79.95
Member/Affiliate Price: $59.95
Publication Date: January 2014
Format: Hardcover
Availability: In Stock
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For individuals in the U.S. & U.S. territories


Whether the decision is to have unprotected sex, consent to surgery, spend rather than save for retirement, or have an extra piece of pie, risky decisions permeate our lives, sometimes with disastrous consequences. How and why risk taking occurs has important implications, yet many questions remain about how various factors influence decision-making.

This book advances basic understanding and scientific theory about the brain mechanisms underlying risky decision making, paving the way for translation of science into practice and policy. This compelling research topic crosses a number of disciplines, including social, cognitive, and affective (emotion) neuroscience psychology, brain sciences, law, behavioral economics, and addiction.

Table of Contents


Colin F. Camerer


Introduction to The Neuroscience of Risky Decision Making
Valerie F. Reyna and Vivian Zayas

I. Neuroeconomics

  1. Reward, Representation, and Impulsivity: A Theoretical Framework for the Neuroscience of Risky Decision Making
    Valerie F. Reyna and Scott A. Huettel
  2. Behavioral and Neuroscience Methods for Studying Neuroeconomic Processes: What We Can Learn From Framing Effects
    Irwin P. Levin, Todd McElroy, Gary J. Gaeth, William Hedgcock, and Natalie L. Denburg

II. Neurodevelopment

  1. Risks, Rewards, and the Developing Brain in Childhood and Adolescence
    Barbara R. Braams, Linda van Leijenhorst, and Eveline A. Crone
  2. The Adolescent Sensation-Seeking Period: Development of Reward Processing and Its Effects on Cognitive Control
    Beatriz Luna, Aarthi Padmanabhan, and Charles Geier
  3. Reward Processing and Risky Decision Making in the Aging Brain
    Gregory R. Samanez-Larkin and Brian Knutson

III. Neuropsychology

  1. Mind and Brain in Delay of Gratification
    Vivian Zayas, Walter Mischel, and Gayathri Pandey
  2. The Neuroscience of Dual (and Triple) Systems in Decision Making
    Samantha M. W. Wood and Antoine Bechara


About the Editors

Editor Bios

Valerie F. Reyna, PhD, is director of the Human Neuroscience Institute at Cornell University and former president of the Society for Judgment and Decision Making, professor and codirector of the Center for Behavioral Economics and Decision Research at Cornell University, and codirector of the Cornell University Magnetic Resonance Imaging Facility.

She is a developer of fuzzy trace theory, a model of memory, decision making, and development that is widely applied in law, medicine, and public health. Her recent work has focused on numeracy, medical decision making, risk perception and risk taking, neurobiological models of development, and neurocognitive impairment and genetics.

Dr. Reyna has been a leader in using memory principles such as accessibility and mathematical models of memory to explain judgment and decision making. Among her theoretical proposals, she is particularly well known for a model of intuition that places it at the apex of judgment and decision making, rather than treating it as a developmentally primitive process. She also helped to initiate what is now a burgeoning area of research on developmental differences in judgment and decision making.

Her research supports an evidence-based explanation of neural and psychological processes of risk taking in adolescence and adulthood, which predicts real-world behaviors. The author of more than 175 publications that have been cited more than 8,000 times, Dr. Reyna is a fellow of numerous scientific societies and has served on scientific panels of the National Research Council, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the MacArthur Foundation, and the National Academy of Sciences.

Vivian Zayas, PhD, is an associate professor of psychology at Cornell University.

Her research examines the cognitive and affective processes involved in delay of gratification and the interplay between attachment and affiliative processes, on the one hand, and self-control processes, on the other, using theoretical frameworks and methods that cross traditionally defined boundaries between social and personality psychology and cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience and developmental psychology.

Her research has appeared in journals such as Psychological Science, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Child Development, Nature Neuroscience, and the Journal of Personality.

She has received funding from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

Reviews & Awards

People are choice machines. And new tools have opened new windows on how brains perceive, translate perceptions into choices, and transform choices into behaviors. The Neuroscience of Risky Decision Making provides the best and most current overview of how brains process a particular kind of information: risk. Although many fields bring important insights about risk to the table, the chapters collected in this book demonstrate why neuroscience deserves to be there and what can be gained from its good company.
—Owen D. Jones, Joe B. Wyatt Distinguished University Professor, New York Alumni Chancellor's Chair in Law, and Professor of Biological Sciences, Vanderbilt University; Director, MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience

In the last decade, neuroscience has vastly improved our understanding of risky decision-making, especially among adolescents. This carefully edited volume showcases the work of some of the field's most original and influential thinkers. It would make a valuable addition to courses in both cognitive neuroscience and adolescent development.
—Laurence Steinberg, Distinguished University Professor of Psychology, Temple University, and author of Age of Opportunity: Lessons From the New Science of Adolescence

Risky decision making is an important topic in psychology, for both theoretical and practical reasons. Not surprisingly, therefore, many hope that the neurosciences will facilitate progress in our understanding of risk taking. In The Neuroscience of Risky Decision Making, Valerie Reyna and Vivian Zayas have compiled chapters by seven groups of investigators that provide a valuable summary of recent progress.