Robin Clark, On the Neuroanatomy of Focal Points and Coordination

Focal points (Schelling 1960) are choices in coordination games that permit tacit bargaining; players can coordinate their behavior quickly and with a high degree of reliability without an explicit prior agreement. While there has been some experimental work in behavioral economics (see, for example, Mehta et al. 1994, Camerer et al. 2004, Sugden and Zamarron 2006, Bardsley et al. 2010 among others), focal points and coordination have as yet received little attention from neuroscientists. In this talk, I will report some experimental work and preliminary findings on patients with Behavioral Variant Fronto-Temporal Dementia (bvFTD). These patients show gross impairments in social cognition, including what has been termed "theory of mind". We will show that they also show impairments in their ability to select focal points in coordination games.

- Bardsley, Nicholas, Judith Mehta, Chris Starmer, and Robert Sugden. 2010. Explaining focal points: Cognitive hierarchy theory-versus-team reasoning. The Economic Journal 120(543):40-79.
- Camerer, Colin F., Teck-Hua Ho, and Juin-Kuan Chong. 2004. A cognitive hierarchy model of games. Quarterly Journal of Economics 119(3):861-898.
- Mehta, Judith, Chris Starmer, and Robert Sugden. 1994. The nature of salience: An experimental investigation of pure coordination games. The American Economic Review 84(3):658-673.
- Schelling, Thomas C. 1960. The strategy of conflict. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
- Sugden, R, and IE Zamarron. 2006. Finding the key: the riddle of focal points. Journal of Economic Psychology 27(5):609-621.