I've long been interested in neuroeconomics and quantitative psychology because it edges so close to my own artificial intelligence work which is heavily dependent on data. It is frustrating to me that so much research into the human brain is driven by observing symptoms and I'm glad to see that progress is being made towards understanding the underlying mechanisms.

Read Montague, a neuroscientist at Baylor College of Medicine, uses a combination of brain imaging and interactive games to explore this skill, with the long-term goal of developing new diagnostic tests for psychiatric disorders.

"This is an extremely promising approach to identifying the mechanisms that underpin these disorders," says Peter Fonagy, a psychiatrist at University College London who has collaborated with Montague in the past. "Psychiatry is the last medical specialty where the symptoms are equivalent to a diagnosis."

In a study published today, Montague and collaborators found that people take one of three strategies when playing a simple economics game, and that specific parts of the brain seem to be more active in people who choose to bluff. A second paper published last month shows how the strategies chosen by healthy people playing a similar game change depending on the mental status of their opponent. Researchers ultimately hope to create an automated version of this approach and use it to diagnose disease.

(Emphasis mine.) As automated system as described would be a fun AI project to develop.

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