ASD and decision-making

This week our book chapter discussed “the wiring of the brain”, explaining how neurons form by proliferating, migrating and differentiating to their different functions in the nervous system and connect by allowing their axons to grow and attach to other neurons.

 

At first glance and ponderation, we found it a bit difficult to link this week’s reading to issues in behavioural finance or economics. But fear not, we managed to pull through with it in the end! J

 

The book talks about the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and how, even though the disorder is heritable, the exact genetics of its development are still studied. ASD seems to be due to gene mutations which occur already in the parents’ sperm or egg cells and are passed on to the children. DNA sequencing technology has enabled scientists to locate the ASD symptom -inducing genes and quantify them to a total of hundreds. This suggests according to the chapter that there are many different cellular processes during brain development that can be the reason for ASD, as they are disrupted.

 

In the much-mentioned behavioural and sustainable finance -course, we had to study a cognitive bias, and test whether our classmates were susceptible to this bias. Our group chose to focus on the framing effect, a bias which asserts that the way a question or situation is framed, e.g. by the words used or pictures shown, can influence decision-making. Our test results showed that there was at least some inclination towards such bias also amongst our class.

 

Online, I came across a research paper (Shah et al., 2016) that combined these two topics: the way people with ASD are affected by the framing effect! It seems very interestingly that people with ASD are less prone to adhere to the framing effect and be fooled by this cognitive bias when making decisions. The researched reasons for this entail a reduced tendency of individuals with ASD to incorporate emotional information into the decision-making process.

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