Advisory Board

Dr. Jan B. Engelmann

The ScienceDaily article Financial Advice Causes ‘Off-Loading’ In The Brain said

A study using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) shows that expert advice may shut down areas of the brain responsible for decision-making processes, particularly when individuals are trying to evaluate a situation where risk is involved.
“Results showed that brain regions consistent with decision-making were active in participants when making choices on their own; however, there occurred an offloading of the decision-making process in the presence of expert advice,” says Jan B. Engelmann, Ph.D., Emory research fellow in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and first author of the study.

Jan B. Engelmann, Ph.D. is Postdoctoral Fellow in the Computation and Cognitive Neuroscience Lab at Emory University, where he is pursuing his interest in neuroeconomics by conducting experiments on the neurobiological basis of financial risk attitudes.
As human beings we live in an unpredictable and complex world. Yet, we have learned to adapt and to make choices that ensure our wellbeing. When faced with a decision, how are we able to compute the most advantageous course of action among a multitude of potential alternatives in an unpredictable environment? How does our brain accomplish this task? Recent advances in neuroscience, particularly in functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, have enabled researchers to investigate the above questions.
One hypothesis states that the ultimate goal of a system that processes sensory stimuli and produces motor outputs that enable complex interactions with the environment must be to ensure the survival and wellbeing of the organism. Evolution has endowed organisms with various mechanisms that ensure its behaviors maintain Darwinian fitness. Specifically, the brain’s reward system encodes information about the value of the potential outcomes of our actions. This information is highly relevant to other cognitive brain systems since it motivates our actions and, in an abstract sense, adds purpose to our behavior.
Jan has been investigating the neural correlates of interactions between the reward system and other cognitive systems, specifically attention, and the role of such motivation-cognition interactions in perceptual decision making. Currently, he is investigating the role of context in decision-making involving risk.
His projects include Neural basis of motivation – attention interactions with Luiz Pessoa, Eswar Damaraju, and Srikanth Padmala; ACC and PCC process subjective value during financial decision-making with Diana Tamir; and Neural correlates of non-linear probability weighting with Gregory Berns, Monica Capra, and Charles Noussair.
Jan authored Personality Predicts Responsivity of the Brain Reward System, and coauthored Combined effects of attention and motivation on visual task performance: transient and sustained motivational effects, Motivation sharpens exogenous spatial attention, Expert Financial Advice Neurobiologically “Offloads” Financial Decision-Making under Risk, Behavioral and Neural Effects of Delays during Intertemporal Choice Are Independent of Probability, and Individual differences in risk preference predict neural responses during financial decision-making.
Jan earned his M.A. in Psychology (with honors) from the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, UK in 2002, Scotland and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from Brown University in 2004 and 2008. His doctoral dissertation Neural Correlates of Incentive Motivation during Goal-directed Cognition focused on the cognitive neuroscience of motivation-attention interactions.