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New Book: “The Neuroscience of Risky Decision Making”


news-neurobook-inpostThe newest book in the Bronfenbrenner Series on the Ecology of Human Development is out this month from the American Psychological Association (APA). The work presented in The Neuroscience of Risky Decision Making, edited by Valerie Reyna and Vivian Zayas, is drawn from presentations made at the Third Biennial Urie Bronfenbrenner Conference.

From the APA web site:

Whether the decision is to have unprotected sex, consent to surgery, spend rather than save for retirement, or have an extra piece of pie, risky decisions permeate our lives, sometimes with disastrous consequences. How and why risk taking occurs has important implications, yet many questions remain about how various factors influence decision-making.

Vivian Zayas and Valerie Reyna

Vivian Zayas and Valerie Reyna

This book advances basic understanding and scientific theory about the brain mechanisms underlying risky decision making, paving the way for translation of science into practice and policy. This compelling research topic crosses a number of disciplines, including social, cognitive, and affective (emotion) neuroscience psychology, brain sciences, law, behavioral economics, and addiction.

The book's chapter co-authors include Valerie Reyna, Vivian Zayas, Scott Huettel, Eveline Crone, Beatriz Luna, Brian Knutson, Walter Mischel, and Antione Bechara.

The book is the third in the APA's Bronfenbrenner Series on the Ecology of Human Development, each volume in which results from research presented at a Biennial Bronfenbrenner Conference. The first two books in the series are:

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Chaos and Its Influence on Children's Development: An Ecological Perspective, edited by Gary Evans and Theodore Wach

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Research for the Public Good: Applying Methods of Translational Research to Improve Human Health and Well-being, edited by Elaine Wethington and Rachel Dunifon

Book debuts brain models of risky decision-making - Cornell Chronicle
Video from the Third Biennial Urie Bronfenbrenner Conference

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Video from the 2013 Bronfenbrenner Conference now online


front row: Carstensen, Mather, Tsai, Ong, Loeckenhoff; back row: Mroczek, Riediger, Zautra, Kubzansky, Bonanno, Charles, Anderson, Urry.

front row: Carstensen, Mather, Tsai, Ong, Loeckenhoff; back row: Mroczek, Riediger, Zautra, Kubzansky, Bonanno, Charles, Anderson, Urry.

The Fourth Biennial Urie Bronfenbrenner Conference on New Developments in Aging, Emotion, and Health was held October 3-4, 2013 on Cornell campus. The event brought together national and international experts to examine the ways emotions change and impact health in new ways as people age. The conference was organized by Corinna Loeckenhoff, assistant professor, and  Anthony Ong, associate professor, both of the Department of Human Development.

The conference aimed to close the gap between two burgeoning fields of research at the intersection of aging, emotion, and health. On the one hand, recent advances in affective science have documented systematic age differences in emotional processing, affective experience, and affect regulation. Although researchers are beginning to explore the neural, cognitive, and motivational mechanisms behind such effects, their contributions to later-life health and well-being are not fully understood. On the other hand, research on the psychobiology of health and disease has provided growing evidence for the role of psychosocial factors (e.g., mental health, positive and negative emotionality) in physical health. Specific pathways including biological and behavioral mechanisms are beginning to emerge, but their potential for yielding answers to developmental questions involving intraindividual variability and change has yet to be realized. To integrate these lines of inquiry, the conference convened leaders in the respective fields for two days of intense dialogue aimed at setting the stage for transformative future research.

Adam K. Anderson

Adam K. Anderson

A book with chapters by the presenting academics will be published by the American Psychological Association as part of the Bronfenbrenner Series on the Ecology of Human Development. Earlier volumes in this series, resulting from past Bronfenbrenner Conferences, are Chaos and Its Influence on Children's Development: An Ecological Perspective, Research for the Public Good: Applying Methods of Translational Research to Improve Human Health and Well-being, and, upcoming from the 2011 Bronfenbrenner Conference, The Neuroscience of Risky Decision Making.

Presentations at New Developments in Aging, Emotion, and Health were:

Conference program

Overview page of all videos from the conference

Experts explore roots of healthy aging - Cornell Chronicle

The Fourth Biennial Urie Bronfenbrenner Conference was sponsored by the Cornell University Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, the Cornell University Institute for the Social Sciences, the Scientific Research Network on Decision Neuroscience and Aging (R24-AG039350), the Cornell University Department of Human Development, Mrs. Constance F. Ferris, and Mrs. Liese Bronfenbrenner.

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Third Biennial Urie Bronfenbrenner Conference, Thursday, October 18, 2018

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Third Biennial Urie Bronfenbrenner Conference

The Neuroscience of Risky Decision Making
September 22-23, 2011

Download a copy of the conference agenda

How and why risk taking occurs remains a mystery that has important implications for law, medicine, economics, and public policy. Building on a recent surge of research on risky decision making across the life span, leading neuroeconomists, neuroscientists, and social scientists convened in Ithaca to present and discuss their latest findings, and to develop a framework for future research. Their work spans such topics as the changing impact of rewards and punishments at different ages, emotional regulation and self control, and individual differences in personality, among other social, cognitive, biological, and developmental factors that shape risky behavior.


The Neuroscience of Risky Decision Making
September 22-23, 2011

Download a copy of the conference agenda

How and why risk taking occurs remains a mystery that has important implications for law, medicine, economics, and public policy. Building on a recent surge of research on risky decision making across the life span, leading neuroeconomists, neuroscientists, and social scientists convened in Ithaca to present and discuss their latest findings, and to develop a framework for future research. Their work spans such topics as the changing impact of rewards and punishments at different ages, emotional regulation and self control, and individual differences in personality, among other social, cognitive, biological, and developmental factors that shape risky behavior.

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2011 Bronfenbrenner Conference on Risky Decision Making


2011 Bronfenbrenner ConferenceThe 2011 Biennial Urie Bronfenbrenner Conference, The Neuroscience of Risky Decision Making, was held on September 22-23 in 102 Mann Library. The conference featured distinguished scholars whose expertise spans diverse areas of psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral economics: Antoine Bechara, Eveline Crone, Paul Glimcher, Jay Giedd, Scott Huettel, Brian Knutson, Beatriz Luna, Kevin Ochsner, and Philip Zelazo. Also in attendance were representatives from government agencies, including NIH and NSF. Through the talks, discussants’ presentations, and lively Q&A sessions, the speakers explained their latest findings, and the group in attendance discussed a framework for future research.

For further information, see the Cornell Chronicle article on the conference and the video of the full conference.

The conference was organized by Valerie Reyna (HD) and Vivian Zayas (Psych) and supported by the Cornell University Institute for Social Sciences, the Cornell University Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research and the Cornell University Office of the Dean of the College of Human Ecology; and sponsored by the Center for Behavioral Economics and Decision Research.

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