Does Social Engagement Have a Genetic Root?

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Does Social Engagement Have a Genetic Root?
California Academy of Sciences - California Academy of Sciences
Innovation is critical for both individual and evolutionary success, but creative disruption requires taking risks. New research marrying the theory and methods of economics to cutting-edge neuroscience techniques-an emerging field known as NeuroEconomics-is making new discoveries about the biological processes that motivate us to take risks and create new solutions to unforeseen challenges. Dr. Platt will describe how the brain overcomes uncertainty to explore novel alternatives and create new knowledge. Parallel findings from humans, monkeys, rodents, and worms indicate that a common suite of underlying mechanisms has evolved to control the desire to explore. At one extreme, neuropsychiatric disorders like attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and addiction, may arise from dysfunctional control of exploration. At the other, uniquely human faculties of creativity and technological innovation may reflect elaboration of this shared biological heritage controlling our desire to explore.

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