Receptor theory and biological constraints on value

Gregory S. Berns, C. Monica Capra, Charles Noussair

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

6 Scopus citations


Modern economic theories of value derive from expected utility theory. Behavioral evidence points strongly toward departures from linear value weighting, which has given rise to alternative formulations that include prospect theory and rank-dependent utility theory. Many of the nonlinear forms for value assumed by these theories can be derived from the assumption that value is signaled by neurotransmitters in the brain, which obey simple laws of molecular movement. From the laws of mass action and receptor occupancy, we show how behaviorally observed forms of nonlinear value functions can arise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationReward and Decision Making in Corticobasal Ganglia Networks
PublisherBlackwell Publishing Inc.
Number of pages9
ISBN (Print)1573316741, 9781573316743
StatePublished - Jul 2007
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
ISSN (Print)0077-8923
ISSN (Electronic)1749-6632


  • Expected utility theory
  • Neuroeconomics
  • Prospect theory
  • Receptor theory
  • Reward

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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