Volume 1 Issue 8 August 2017

Volume 1 Issue 8

How does the neurotransmitter dopamine and Parkinson’s disease affect decision-making under uncertainty? Vilares and Kording find that dopamine levels, which are affected by Parkinson's disease and the drugs used for its treatment, influence reliance on new vs. prior information in decision-making.

See Vilares & Kording 1, 0129 (2017).

See also Fiorillo 1, 0158 (2017).

Image: Gil Costa. Cover design: Samantha Whitham.


  • Editorial |

    In the face of growing economic inequality, rebalancing the wealth gap at global and national levels is key to alleviating health, educational and lifestyle inequalities — but could our respect for established hierarchies hinder a move toward fairer distribution?

Comment and Opinion

  • Comment |

    It has long been assumed that grammar is a system of abstract rules, that the world's languages follow universal patterns, and that we are born with a ‘language instinct’. But an alternative paradigm that focuses on how we learn and use language is emerging, overturning these assumptions and many more.

    • Morten H. Christiansen
    •  & Nick Chater
  • Comment |

    Europe has witnessed an increase in covert cultural racism that is reflected in recent political turmoil in its nation-states. Far-right movements and populists are exploiting fear about existential and ontological threats to spur the exclusion of unwanted ‘others’, such as Muslims, Roma, and refugees.

    • Catarina Kinnvall

Research Highlights

News & Views

  • News and Views |

    Modelling and experiments have shown that strategic information can undermine ‘altruistic’ cooperation. Using a model that varies the distribution of costs for finding out, it is now shown that information can also promote self-interested ‘strategic’ cooperation.

    • Adam Bear
    •  & David G. Rand
  • News and Views |

    Experiments show that people dislike inequality, but are they willing to overturn established hierarchies to achieve income equality? A cross-cultural experiment shows that from a young age humans exhibit rank reversal aversion when redistributing resources between the rich and the poor, suggesting that hierarchy preservation is a social norm.

    • Gary Charness
    •  & Marie Claire Villeval
  • News and Views |

    How robust is the perceived association between immorality and atheism? Studies across 13 countries demonstrate that immoral behaviour is intuitively associated with atheism: people routinely assume that an immoral person is likely to be an atheist, and this effect is consistent across a wide range of societies, though with notable variation.

    • Adam B. Cohen
    •  & Jordan W. Moon
  • News and Views |

    Combining numerical information on-the-fly is crucial for making advantageous decisions, but precisely how humans are able to track and compare magnitudes is unclear. Experiments now suggest that when it comes to performing such tasks, not all numbers are created equal.

    • Rogier A. Kievit
  • News and Views |

    The basal ganglia are a core structure of the human brain with strong and reciprocal connections to most areas of the cerebral cortex. Analyses of human functional MRI data, collected during rest and analysed using a novel approach, support the notion that these connectivity patterns underlie differences in decision-making behaviour.

    • Bernd Weber
  • News and Views |

    Recent theories propose that perceptions, decisions, and behaviour rely on many rational neural observers that work to predict the value of stimuli and actions. This Bayesian framework has now advanced into new territory through a study of dopamine's influence on the integration of sensory (new) and prior (old) information in Parkinson's disease.

    • Christopher D. Fiorillo
  • News and Views |

    Small interventions in everyday public environments hold great potential to positively impact health behaviours. TIPPME is a framework that will provide consensus and definitional precision across intervention research into the purchase and consumption of tobacco, alcohol and food.

    • Vera Araújo-Soares
    •  & Falko F. Sniehotta


  • Letter |

    Research has shown that people dislike inequality. However, in a cross-cultural experiment, Zhou and colleagues show that, from a young age, people are unwilling to redistribute resources between individuals if this reverses an existing hierarchy.

    • Wenwen Xie
    • , Benjamin Ho
    • , Stephan Meier
    •  & Xinyue Zhou
  • Letter |

    Gervais et al. present evidence from 13 different countries that shows intuitive moral distrust of atheists is pervasive, even among atheists themselves.

    • Will M. Gervais
    • , Dimitris Xygalatas
    • , Ryan T. McKay
    • , Michiel van Elk
    • , Emma E. Buchtel
    • , Mark Aveyard
    • , Sarah R. Schiavone
    • , Ilan Dar-Nimrod
    • , Annika M. Svedholm-Häkkinen
    • , Tapani Riekki
    • , Eva Kundtová Klocová
    • , Jonathan E. Ramsay
    •  & Joseph Bulbulia
  • Letter |

    Spitzer et al. investigate the neural and computational mechanisms involved in weighting, integrating and comparing numbers. They find systematic overweighting of larger numbers, which is reflected in stronger neural signals over the parietal cortex.

    • Bernhard Spitzer
    • , Leonhard Waschke
    •  & Christopher Summerfield
  • Resource |

    Hollands and colleagues classify possible interventions regarding the selection, purchase and consumption of food, alcohol and tobacco. The TIPPME framework enables systematic reporting and analysis of health-related behavioural change interventions.

    • Gareth J. Hollands
    • , Giacomo Bignardi
    • , Marie Johnston
    • , Michael P. Kelly
    • , David Ogilvie
    • , Mark Petticrew
    • , Andrew Prestwich
    • , Ian Shemilt
    • , Stephen Sutton
    •  & Theresa M. Marteau