Workshop on Information Processing and Behavioral Variability

Organizers: Rava da Silveira, Mark Dean and Michael Woodford

1501 International Affairs Building, 420 West 118th Street, New York, NY 10027

The Program for Economic Research at Columbia University will sponsor a one-day interdisciplinary Workshop on Information Processing and Behavioral Variability, to be held on May 12, 2017. The Workshop aims to bring together economists, psychologists, neuroscientists and computer scientists who have a shared interest in understanding the gathering, storage and retrieval of information that occur when people make choices, and what this implies for the modeling of economic behavior.

The morning session will be focused on models of the informational basis of decisions, with particular emphasis on implications of the need to represent an organism’s situation in a relatively compressed way, memory constraints, and the role of sampling from memory in decision making. The afternoon will instead focus on the causes of stochasticity in choice behavior, with attention both to ways in which randomness in choice may result from randomness in neural processes underlying choice, and ways in which it can result from information constraints, and will consider the degree to which such randomness limits the accuracy of decisions.


8:30-9:00:    Arrival and Breakfast 

Session 1:  The Informational Basis of Behavior (Chair: Michael Woodford, Columbia)

9:00-10:00:  Keynote lecture: Randy Gallistel [Rutgers], "How Does Experience Shape Behavior? A Minimum-Description-Length Theory of Learning"

10:00-10:40:  Arthur Robson [Simon Fraser], “Adaptive Hedonic Utility”

10:40-11:10: Coffee break

11:10-11:50:  Isabelle Brocas [USC], “A Neuroeconomic Theory of Memory Retrieval”

11:50-12:30:  Daphna Shohamy [Columbia], “Sampling Episodic Memory to Guide Decisions”

12:30-13:00:  General discussion

13:00-14:00: Lunch break


Session 2: Sources of Randomness in Behavior (Chair: Andrew Caplin, NYU)

14:00-15:00:  Keynote lecture: Pedro Ortega [Google DeepMind], “Information-Theoretic Bounded Rationality”

15:00-15:40:  Luminita Stevens [Maryland], “Discrete Adjustment to a Changing Environment: Experimental Evidence”

15:40-16:10: Coffee break

16:10-16:50:  Valentin Wyart [ENS, Paris], “Shared Computational Origin of Human Choice Variability in Probabalistic Inference and Reward-Guided Learning”

16:50-17:30:  Erin Rich [Icahn School], “Dynamic Neural Signatures of Subjectivity in Choice"

17:30-18:00:  General discussion

18:00: Adjourn

Directions to the International Affairs Building are available here.


For registration information, please contact Juliana Capaldi