Set-Size Effects and the Neural Representation of Value

Kenway Louie, Paul W. Glimcher

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter lays out a framework for understanding choice set effects among organisms at the neural level that may reconcile many previous unrelated observations about set-size effects. The decision process is vital to organisms that live in a dynamic environment and require a behavioral repertoire beyond simple stimulus-response reflexes. Individuals hold stable rank-ordered preferences between all possible options—a requirement for any form of efficient maximization. Under this assumption, enlarging the choice set can only increase the likelihood of obtaining a better option according to the chooser's preexisting preferences. Choice set-size effects are a specific example of the broader phenomenon of context-dependent preferences and choice behavior, situations in which the term context refers to the other alternatives available in the choice set. Since value information is a fundamental element of the decision process, it is important to understand how set-size manipulation affects the neural representation of value. Economic theories do not require that value be represented in specific.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationNeuroscience of Preference and Choice
Subtitle of host publicationCognitive and Neural Mechanisms
Number of pages31
ISBN (Electronic)9780123814319
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011


  • context-dependence
  • Decision
  • neurophysiology
  • rationality
  • signal detection theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)
  • General Business, Management and Accounting


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