Brain imaging data gathered from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans in economics is often ad hoc, with little guidance from economic theory. Using a very simple economic product differentiation model with temporal hazard rates and discounting, the authors incorporate percent signal change contrasts from blood-oxygenation-level-dependent (BOLD) scans in a logical manner. Using BOLD signals from brain regions implicated in economic valuation, the research directly tests the hypotheses from the economic conjecture. The empirical test uses a study of consumer decision time regarding milk products. Both simple correlations as well as regression analyses support the hypothesized relationships providing evidence of the interrelatedness of brain activation and theories of differentiation.
Bruce, Amanda S.; Crespi, John M.; and Lusk, Jayson, "A Simple Economic Conjecture of Neural Activations, Information Retrieval, and Discount Rates with an Application to fMRI" (2017). Economics Working Papers: 17019.