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Neuroeconomics track

In the Neuroeconomics track you learn to understand the brain’s role in controlling human behaviour. This is 1 of 3 tracks you can opt for in the MSc Business Economics.

Help solve societal issues with neuroeconomic research

Receive interdisciplinary training in brain and cognitive sciences and economics.  All with a strong focus on behavioural economics and neuroeconomics.

You learn quantitative skills that allow you to employ advanced experimental methods. Use them to understand social and economic decision-making at different levels of analysis: at the neurobiological, psychological and economic level.

During this track you gain insight into recent scientific advances in the field of neuroeconomics. Besides that you will be able to identify current societal challenges that can benefit from them.

Entry requirements

This interdisciplinary Master's track is open to excellent students with a Bachelor’s in Economics, Psychology, Cognitive Neuroscience or related disciplines. It also helps if you show evidence of branching out into other fields of study relevant to neuroeconomics. The basic entry requirements are sufficient knowledge in:

  • Econometrics or Statistics
  • And at least one of the following courses (or their equivalent):
    • Microeconomics
    • Behavioral Economics
    • Game Theory
    • Introductory Psychology
    • Cognitive/Affective Neuroscience

Students will also benefit if they have conducted an empirical research project (Bachelor's thesis or equivalent).

Track-specific courses

  • Brain Organisation and Cognition for Behavioural Scientists

    Each week an expert from the field will teach you about a specific topic related to the cognitive and affective neuroscience field. All topics covered are highly relevant as they contribute fundamental cognitive and emotional processes in decision-making. You will learn about topics such as: neurons and synapses, brain anatomy, attention, memory, learning, emotions, and decision-making.

  • Behavioural Economics

    In this course you will learn to understand the psychological underpinnings of economics behaviour and of recent theories in behavioural economics. By critically reading and evaluating academic papers you will gain insight in individual choice and strategic interaction, especially social preferences and reciprocity. 

  • Experimental Economics

    In this course you will learn the basic methodology of experimental economics: how to design a simple experiment, including writing instructions. You will practice both with laboratory and field experimentation evolving around:

    • industrial organisation
    • labour economics
    • behavioural economics
    • individual and group decision making
  • Neuroeconomics

    In this course you will become familiar with neuroeconomics: a relatively new field of research. You will learn to understand its relevance for understanding economic behaviour.

    Topics you will cover are:

    • the mechanics of the brain and the techniques and methods used by neuroeconomists.
    • the value systems determining behaviour: goal-directed, habitual, and Pavlovian.
    • the interaction between emotion and cognition.

    Expect firing discussions on (potential) applications and ethical issues.

  • Neuroeconomic Methods for Behavioural Scientists

    This course introduces you to neuroscientific methods commonly used in neuroeconomics, social neuroscience and related disciplines. Focus is on functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), the most common research method in the field. You will learn about the physiological basis of the BOLD signal and how to use fMRI to identify the processes involved in decision-making. In tutorials you will gain hands-on experience with pre-processing and analysing fMRI data with the software package SPM 12. 

Real-life case: we love our cell phones. Really?

(image: Paul Rogers)

A newspaper headline stated that brain scans reveal that we literally love our iPhones. However, this  is a clear misrepresentation of scientific results. Unfortunately such overstatements are relatively common in the public press. As a student in the Neuroeconomics track, you will learn to critically evaluate scientific findings.

Up-to-date issues

Examples of relevant issues that could be discussed in your classroom.

  • Does Neuroeconomics enable us to read others’ minds?
  • How does the brain respond to social media?
  • Can we change our habits by rewiring our brain?
  • What is the neural circuitry involved in financial and social decision-making?

Career prospects

Graduates of the Master's programme in Business Economics/Neuroeconomics track have excellent job prospects for positions as researchers and experts in:

  • consultancy
  • academia
  • data science
  • (neuro-) marketing
  • research career outside academia
  • transferable skills allow entry to many fields

Neuroeconomics and 2 other tracks

Neuroeconomics is 1 of 3 tracks you can opt for in our MSc Business Economics. If you are more interested in another field of business economics, read the info on 1 or more of the other tracks.