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Los Angeles Times

Caltech TEDx: Professor seeks a solution to solve disagreements

In the future, a brain scan might be part of a prenuptial agreement.

Married couples going through a divorce can take months to divvy up possessions and reach an agreement.

Colin Camerer, a Caltech behavioral economics professor, thinks there’s an easier way.

By recording what goes on in a person’s brain when they are making a decision, he said, it could help them make better economic choices.

“To understand a conversation, you need to see the two brain and see how well they synchronize,” he said. “Everyone wants to avoid a disagreement.”

Camerer was one of over 20 speakers to give a short talk about his research Friday at Caltech’s Beckman Auditorium during “The Brain,” an independently organized TEDx event.

“Why don’t people cooperate more? Is there something going on in two people’s brains?” he said. “It could save a lot of legal bills and time.”

If two people reach a divorce settlement right before going to trial, he said, it means they probably could have reached an agreement earlier.

Camerer and his team at Caltech test the theory by placing electrodes outside of a person’s skull and putting them in a situation where they have to make an economic choice.

“The people who are stubborn do very badly,” he said. “The people who do well have a kind of increased [brain] capacity.”

Friday’s all-day event was the second TEDx event at Caltech. In 2011, the university hosted an event based on the work of physicist Richard Feynman.

-- Tiffany Kelly, Times Community News

Follow Tiffany Kelly on Google+ or on Twitter:@LATiffanyKelly.

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