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Risky Decision Making: A Fuzzy-Trace Framework for Understanding the Brain (talk recording available)

Dr. Valerie Reyna

Tuesday, November 19, 2013, 01:00pm - 02:00pm

Cornell University, Human Neuroscience Institute

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Using fuzzy-trace theory as a framework for predictions, I discuss risky decision making across the lifespan, connecting assumptions about mental representations to real-world risk taking that is relevant to public health.  Fuzzy-trace theory differs from other dual-process models in distinguishing impulsivity from intuition and in emphasizing that intuition is advanced.  Gist-based intuition operates on simple, bottom-line representations of the meaning of information or experience.  Using both behavioral and neuroscience data, I describe the implications of this intuitionist framework for understanding risk taking in adolescents, autistic individuals, and neurotypical adults. These critical results illuminate reversals in risk attitudes under gain vs. loss framing, as well as developmental reversals in which adolescents engage in more logical and computational reasoning than adults, ironically, promoting unhealthy risk taking. 

To view a recording of this talk click here (You will need a Rutgers NetID and password)


Reyna, V.F. (2011) Across the lifespan. In B. Fischhoff, N.T. Brewer, & J.S. Downs (Eds.), Communicating risks and benefits: An evidence-based user’s guide (pp.111-119). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved from default.htm

Reyna, V. F., & Brainerd, C. J. (2011).  Dual processes in decision making and developmental neuroscience: A fuzzy-trace model.  Developmental Review, 31,180-206. doi:10.1016/j.dr.2011.07.004

Reyna, V. F., Chick, C. F., Corbin, J. C., & Hsia, A. N. (in press). Developmental reversals in risky decision-making: Intelligence agents show larger decision biases than college students. Psychological Science.

Reyna, V. F., Estrada, S. M., DeMarinis, J. A., Myers, R. M., Stanisz, J. M., & Mills, B. A. (2011). Neurobiological and memory models of risky decision making in adolescents versus young adults. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition,37(5), 1125-1142. doi:10.1037/a0023943

Dr. Valerie Reyna