Neuroeconomics of Age Related Changes in Cognitive Control
Some of work explores the neural and psychological mechanisms that underlie economic decision-making behavior in older adults. Economic decisions are a critical component of everyday life, and may have special relevance for older adults (e.g., saving vs. spending decisions, retirement planning, health care choices, and medication compliance). Basic research in the cognitive neuroscience of aging has suggested that older adults show declines in the ability to control thoughts and actions based on internal goals, and that this may stem from age-related changes in the function of the lateral prefrontal cortex and mid-brain dopamine system. Yet currently, almost nothing is known about whether and how these cognitive and neural changes associated with advancing age impact economic-related behaviors.
The current proposal provides a highly novel perspective on this issue, by leveraging and integrating theoretical developments in three areas: a) the cognitive neuroscience of aging; b) neural mechanisms of cognitive control; and c) basic behavioral economics research. Through the use of novel experimental paradigms and state-of-the-art neuroimaging methods, the proposed studies will systematically examine core components of economic decision-making that may be particularly impacted by age-related changes in cognitive control, including risk-taking and uncertainty, inter-temporal choice, exploration, affective framing effects, and motivational and individual difference influences. The findings of these studies promise to provide critical new data regarding economic choice behavior in older adults, and the relationship of such behavior to age-related changes in the neural substrates of cognitive control.