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Hardcover | Out of Print | 312 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 4 line drawings, 6 graphs, 2 figures, 1 table | February 2008 | ISBN: 9780262182652
Paperback | $5.75 Short | £4.95 | 312 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 4 line drawings, 6 graphs, 2 figures, 1 table | January 2012 | ISBN: 9780262517584
eBook | $14.00 Short | January 2012 | ISBN: 9780262253406
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Midbrain Mutiny

The Picoeconomics and Neuroeconomics of Disordered Gambling: Economic Theory and Cognitive Science


The explanatory power of economic theory is tested by the phenomenon of irrational consumption, examples of which include such addictive behaviors as disordered and pathological gambling. Midbrain Mutiny examines different economic models of disordered gambling, using the frameworks of neuroeconomics (which analyzes decision making in the brain) and picoeconomics (which analyzes patterns of consumption behavior), and drawing on empirical evidence about behavior and the brain.

The book describes addiction in neuroeconomic terms as chronic disruption of the balance between the midbrain dopamine system and the prefrontal and frontal serotonergic system, and reviews recent evidence from trials testing the effectiveness of antiaddiction drugs. The authors argue that the best way to understand disordered and addictive gambling is with a hybrid picoeconomic-neuroeconomic model.

About the Authors

Don Ross is Professor of Economics and Dean of Commerce at the University of Cape Town, and Research Fellow in the Center for Economic Analysis of Risk at Georgia State University. He is the author of Economic Theory and Cognitive Science: Microexplanation (MIT Press, 2005), companion volume to Midbrain Mutiny.

Carla Sharp is Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Houston.

Rudy E. Vuchinich was formerly Professor of Psychology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

David Spurrett is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Cognitive Science Program at the Howard College Campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.


“Relying on findings from the burgeoning area of Neuroeconomics, Midbrain Mutiny makes the case that the neural basis of addiction's core is in sight. It is so convincing, in large part, because it simultaneously illuminates the very behavioral findings that have led others to doubt the feasibility of such a reduction. This is sure-footed pragmatism and, indeed, scientific unification at its most thrilling!”
John Monterosso, University of California, Los Angeles
“In this bold synthesis of contemporary research and theory bringing together advances in behavioral- and neuro- economics, Ross and colleagues provide a novel understanding of addiction and apply it to the growing international challenge of pathological gambling. This book is a must read for anyone interested in the science of addiction and addictive gambling and I predict will soon become the standard work for understanding the neuroscientific basis of gambling disorders.”
Warren K. Bickel, Mills Chair of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Prevention, and Director, Center for Addiction Research, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
Midbrain Mutiny gathers together all current, significant research and theory on the psychology and neurology and economics of gambling. In this truly excellent book the authors organize that material, reconcile apparent differences, and make the compelling argument that we are on the verge of a significant breakthrough in treatment of disordered gambling.”
Howard Rachlin, Psychology Department, State University of New York, Stony Brook
“Researchers who want to study impulsive or irrational behavior are well advised to study gambling. It shares with substance addictions a concrete consumption pattern and physiological adaptation, and shares with purely emotional impulses the absence of an ingested agent and an allure for people of all levels of sophistication. Midbrain Mutiny integrates a wide range of research findings on impulsive motivation in general, and on gambling in particular, to develop a parsimonious model of disordered gambling that can also illuminate many other problem behaviors. The result is a superb platform on which neurophysiologists, imaging researchers, psychologists, economists, and philosophers of mind will be able to meet and connect their findings.”
George Ainslie, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and Temple Medical College