Monday, May 24, 2010

computations, decisions and movement workshop

Before the Future Summit in Melbourne, I attended the Computations, Decisions and Movement workshop in Giessen (Germany) to present a poster of our latest experiment mixing social coordination dynamics and neuroeconomics. The event was organized by Nathaniel Daw and Julia Tommershäuser and included Paul Glimcher, Konrad Körding, Peter Dayan and Elke Weber to name only a few of the speakers. It was also good to finally meet Jörn Diedrichsen in person after years of reading each other's papers and to catch up with Richard Ivry
The workshop was very interesting as it allowed me to discuss with people on top of sensorimotor and decision neuroscience. Lots of great discussions and interactions. Workshop details here and pictures here.
I presented a poster on the preliminary results of a study conducted with economists Sylvie Thoron and Alan Kirman, neurophysiologist Jean-Marc Aimonetti, physicist Eric Guerci, and psychologist Pascal Huguet.The goal of the experiment is to look at how the way people physically coordinate influences economic trust in social settings.
To date, experiments in economics are mainly restricted to settings in which individuals are not influenced by the physical presence of other people. Interactions therefore remain at a somewhat abstract level with bodily signals being left out of the picture. 
However, in real life, how many times have we experienced the feeling that trusting someone will be difficult even before talking to them? Whether it was the way she moved or some other factor, body-related cues seem to play key role in modulating economic decisions (e.g. mimicry and tipping). This is why we have decided to cross social coordination dynamics (SCD) with behavioral economics. 
SCD investigates the behavioral and neural mechanisms mediating the formation and dissolution of bonds between individuals. It offers new metrics to quantify human bonding (or lack thereof) at the sensorimotor level, and the self-organizing processes that underlie its persistence and change over space and time. SCD allows spontaneous motor synchronization while people interact and the degree to which their individual movements remain influenced a posteriori –some kind of motor social memory to be computed in real time. In the preliminary experiment we presented, pairs of participants performed multiple rounds of the SCD paradigm and of a trust game in various fashions. 
Our preliminary results indicate that the amount of money exchanged during the trust game is correlated to the stability of the sensorimotor patterns of spontaneous synchrony emerging between participants as well as the level of motor social memory. 
This experiment constitutes a first (experimental) step towards embodied economics. Finally!
Oullier O, Thoron S, Aimonetti J.-M., Guerci E, Huguet P and Kirman A (2010). Motor synchrony and the emergence of trust in social economics games. Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience. Conference Abstract: Computations, Decisions and Movement. doi: 10.3389/conf.fnins.2010.01.00014