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Nat Neurosci. 2008 Apr;11(4):404-9. doi: 10.1038/nn2065. Epub 2008 Mar 26.

Game theory and neural basis of social decision making.

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Yale University School of Medicine, Department of Neurobiology, 333 Cedar Street, SHM B404, New Haven, Connecticut 06510, USA.


Decision making in a social group has two distinguishing features. First, humans and other animals routinely alter their behavior in response to changes in their physical and social environment. As a result, the outcomes of decisions that depend on the behavior of multiple decision makers are difficult to predict and require highly adaptive decision-making strategies. Second, decision makers may have preferences regarding consequences to other individuals and therefore choose their actions to improve or reduce the well-being of others. Many neurobiological studies have exploited game theory to probe the neural basis of decision making and suggested that these features of social decision making might be reflected in the functions of brain areas involved in reward evaluation and reinforcement learning. Molecular genetic studies have also begun to identify genetic mechanisms for personal traits related to reinforcement learning and complex social decision making, further illuminating the biological basis of social behavior.

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