Anatomy of Give and Take
Economic theory goes only so far in explaining why people buy, sell, save or trust. Scientists are looking inside the mind for answers.
By Robert Lee Hotz, Times Staff Writer
The Los Angeles Times
18 March 2005
HOUSTON — The two women had money in mind.
Phuong Tang, 25, wriggled into a $2.5-million brain scanner at Baylor College of Medicine. Across the hall, a technician loaded Tang's trading partner for the day — Kavita Belur, 26 — into the bore of a similar machine, like a fresh artillery shell.
The two strangers were speculators in a marketplace of the mind, locked in a mutual struggle for financial gain. Belur played an investor, Tang the trustee of an investment fund.
As the pair wavered between cooperation and betrayal, scientists recorded how their brains changed. The researchers hoped to discover the secret of trust — the human variable missing from the mathematics of modern economics.
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