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Allen L. Edwards Psychology Lecture Series

We are excited to present video recordings from the Allen L. Edwards Psychology Lecture Series: The Science of Decision Making. This popular series brought notable psychologists to the University of Washington to co-present with faculty from the UW Department of Psychology. Together they revealed how the brain and an individual’s expectations bias the decisions that we make in uncertain conditions.

This free, public series is made possible by a generous bequest from Professor Allen L. Edwards, with the support of a bequest from Professor Roger B. Loucks.

The Neuroscience of Good Decision Making


Decision making is pervasive in everyday life, and individuals vary widely in their ability to use the information available to them to make good decisions. Drs. Randall O'Reilly and Chantel Prat discuss such individual differences in decision making, with an emphasis on how various brain regions contribute to good decision making.

Part One:

Part Two:

These lectures were recorded on Feb. 19, 2014, by UWTV.

How the Brain Makes Decisions under Uncertainty


In order to make decisions about what action to take in uncertain situations the brain needs to be able to make estimates about the future consequences of taking particular actions, and work out which is the best course of action to take in any given situation. Drs. Jeansok Kim and John O’Doherty discuss how the rodent and human brains are capable of working out the “risk” and “value” of possible outcomes over the course of trial-and-error experience, and how that information subsequently gets used at the point of decision making. Uncovering how it is that the brain makes decisions is important not only for gaining a better appreciation of what makes us tick as human beings, but also can ultimately help us to better understand what happens when people make poor decisions, such as when suffering from psychiatric illness.

Part One:

Part Two:

These lectures were recorded on Feb. 26, 2014, by UWTV.

Communicating, Understanding and Using Uncertain Information in Everyday Decisions


Each of us makes important decisions involving uncertainty in domains in which we are not experts, such as retirement planning, medical treatment, precautions against severe weather and climate change. We often have access to information about the relevant uncertainty that in some cases is provided by experts. David Budescu and Susan Joslyn describe research that explores what people understand about uncertainty in decision making, how effectively they incorporate it into the decision process and implications for how best to communicate uncertainty information to non-expert decision makers.

Part One:

Part Two:

These lectures were recorded on March 5, 2014, by UWTV.

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