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    Malaria prevalence among pregnant women in two districts with differing endemicity in Chhattisgarh, India.
    Singh, N ; Singh, MP ; Wylie, BJ ; Hussain, M ; Kojo, YA ; Shekhar, C ; Sabin, L ; Desai, M ; Udhayakumar, V ; Hamer, DH (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2012-08-10)
    BACKGROUND: In India, malaria is not uniformly distributed. Chhattisgarh is a highly malarious state where both Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax are prevalent with a preponderance of P. falciparum. Malaria in pregnancy (MIP), especially when caused by P. falciparum, poses substantial risk to the mother and foetus by increasing the risk of foetal death, prematurity, low birth weight (LBW), and maternal anaemia. These risks vary between areas with stable and unstable transmission. The specific objectives of this study were to determine the prevalence of malaria, its association with maternal and birth outcomes, and use of anti-malarial preventive measures for development of evidence based interventions to reduce the burden of MIP. METHODS: A cross-sectional study of pregnant women presenting to antenatal clinics (ANC) or delivery units (DU), or hospitalized for non-obstetric illness was conducted over 12 months in high (Bastar) and low (Rajnandgaon) transmission districts in Chhattisgarh state. Intensity of transmission was defined on the basis of slide positivity rates with a high proportion due to P. falciparum. In each district, a rural and an urban health facility was selected. RESULTS: Prevalence of peripheral parasitaemia was low: 1.3% (35/2696) among women at ANCs and 1.9% at DUs (19/1025). Peripheral parasitaemia was significantly more common in Bastar (2.8%) than in Rajnandgaon (0.1%) (p < 0.0001). On multivariate analysis of ANC participants, residence in Bastar district (stable malaria transmission) was strongly associated with peripheral parasitaemia (adjusted OR [aOR] 43.4; 95% CI, 5.6-335.2). Additional covariates associated with parasitaemia were moderate anaemia (aOR 3.7; 95% CI 1.8-7.7), fever within the past week (aOR 3.2; 95% CI 1.2-8.6), and lack of formal education (aOR 4.6; 95% CI 2.0-10.7). Similarly, analysis of DU participants revealed that moderate anaemia (aOR 2.5; 95% CI 1.1-5.4) and fever within the past week (aOR 5.8; 95% CI 2.4-13.9) were strongly associated with peripheral and/or placental parasitaemia. Malaria-related admissions were more frequent among pregnant women in Bastar, the district with greater malaria prevalence (51% vs. 11%, p < 0.0001). CONCLUSIONS: Given the overall low prevalence of malaria, a strategy of enhanced anti-vector measures coupled with intermittent screening and targeted treatment during pregnancy should be considered for preventing malaria-associated morbidity in central India.
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    The impact of disappointment in decision making: inter-individual differences and electrical neuroimaging
    Tzieropoulos, H ; de Peralta, RG ; Bossaerts, P ; Andino, SLG (FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2011-01-06)
    Disappointment, the emotion experienced when faced to reward prediction errors (RPEs), considerably impacts decision making (DM). Individuals tend to modify their behavior in an often unpredictable way just to avoid experiencing negative emotions. Despite its importance, disappointment remains much less studied than regret and its impact on upcoming decisions largely unexplored. Here, we adapted the Trust Game to effectively elicit, quantify, and isolate disappointment by relying on the formal definition provided by Bell's in economics. We evaluated the effects of experienced disappointment and elation on future cooperation and trust as well as the rationality and utility of the different behavioral and neural mechanisms used to cope with disappointment. All participants in our game trusted less and particularly expected less from unknown opponents as a result of disappointing outcomes in the previous trial but not necessarily after elation indicating that behavioral consequences of positive and negative RPEs are not the same. A large variance in the tolerance to disappointment was observed across subjects, with some participants needing only a small disappointment to impulsively bias their subsequent decisions. As revealed by high-density EEG recordings the most tolerant individuals - who thought twice before making a decision and earned more money - relied on different neural generators to contend with neutral and unexpected outcomes. This study thus provides some support to the idea that different neural systems underlie reflexive and reflective decisions within the same individuals as predicted by the dual-system theory of social judgment and DM.
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    Positive temporal dependence of the biological clock implies hyperbolic discounting
    Ray, D ; Bossaerts, P (FRONTIERS RESEARCH FOUNDATION, 2011-01-01)
    Temporal preferences of animals and humans often exhibit inconsistencies, whereby an earlier, smaller reward may be preferred when it occurs immediately but not when it is delayed. Such choices reflect hyperbolic discounting of future rewards, rather than the exponential discounting required for temporal consistency. Simultaneously, however, evidence has emerged that suggests that animals and humans have an internal representation of time that often differs from the calendar time used in detection of temporal inconsistencies. Here, we prove that temporal inconsistencies emerge if fixed durations in calendar time are experienced as positively related (positive quadrant dependent). Hence, what are time-consistent choices within the time framework of the decision maker appear as time-inconsistent to an outsider who analyzes choices in calendar time. As the biological clock becomes more variable, the fit of the hyperbolic discounting model improves. A recent alternative explanation for temporal choice inconsistencies builds on persistent under-estimation of the length of distant time intervals. By increasing the expected speed of our stochastic biological clock for time farther into the future, we can emulate this explanation. Ours is therefore an encompassing theoretical framework that predicts context-dependent degrees of intertemporal choice inconsistencies, to the extent that context can generate changes in autocorrelation, variability, and expected speed of the biological clock. Our finding should lead to novel experiments that will clarify the role of time perception in impulsivity, with critical implications for, among others, our understanding of aging, drug abuse, and pathological gambling.
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    Do not bet on the unknown versus try to find out more: estimation uncertainty and "unexpected uncertainty" both modulate exploration
    Payzan-LeNestour, E ; Bossaerts, P (FRONTIERS RESEARCH FOUNDATION, 2012-01-01)
    Little is known about how humans solve the exploitation/exploration trade-off. In particular, the evidence for uncertainty-driven exploration is mixed. The current study proposes a novel hypothesis of exploration that helps reconcile prior findings that may seem contradictory at first. According to this hypothesis, uncertainty-driven exploration involves a dilemma between two motives: (i) to speed up learning about the unknown, which may beget novel reward opportunities; (ii) to avoid the unknown because it is potentially dangerous. We provide evidence for our hypothesis using both behavioral and simulated data, and briefly point to recent evidence that the brain differentiates between these two motives.
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    Risk, Unexpected Uncertainty, and Estimation Uncertainty: Bayesian Learning in Unstable Settings
    Payzan-LeNestour, E ; Bossaerts, P ; Behrens, T (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2011-01-01)
    Recently, evidence has emerged that humans approach learning using Bayesian updating rather than (model-free) reinforcement algorithms in a six-arm restless bandit problem. Here, we investigate what this implies for human appreciation of uncertainty. In our task, a Bayesian learner distinguishes three equally salient levels of uncertainty. First, the Bayesian perceives irreducible uncertainty or risk: even knowing the payoff probabilities of a given arm, the outcome remains uncertain. Second, there is (parameter) estimation uncertainty or ambiguity: payoff probabilities are unknown and need to be estimated. Third, the outcome probabilities of the arms change: the sudden jumps are referred to as unexpected uncertainty. We document how the three levels of uncertainty evolved during the course of our experiment and how it affected the learning rate. We then zoom in on estimation uncertainty, which has been suggested to be a driving force in exploration, in spite of evidence of widespread aversion to ambiguity. Our data corroborate the latter. We discuss neural evidence that foreshadowed the ability of humans to distinguish between the three levels of uncertainty. Finally, we investigate the boundaries of human capacity to implement Bayesian learning. We repeat the experiment with different instructions, reflecting varying levels of structural uncertainty. Under this fourth notion of uncertainty, choices were no better explained by Bayesian updating than by (model-free) reinforcement learning. Exit questionnaires revealed that participants remained unaware of the presence of unexpected uncertainty and failed to acquire the right model with which to implement Bayesian updating.
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    The Affective Impact of Financial Skewness on Neural Activity and Choice
    Wu, CC ; Bossaerts, P ; Knutson, B ; Ben-Jacob, E (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2011-02-15)
    Few finance theories consider the influence of "skewness" (or large and asymmetric but unlikely outcomes) on financial choice. We investigated the impact of skewed gambles on subjects' neural activity, self-reported affective responses, and subsequent preferences using functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI). Neurally, skewed gambles elicited more anterior insula activation than symmetric gambles equated for expected value and variance, and positively skewed gambles also specifically elicited more nucleus accumbens (NAcc) activation than negatively skewed gambles. Affectively, positively skewed gambles elicited more positive arousal and negatively skewed gambles elicited more negative arousal than symmetric gambles equated for expected value and variance. Subjects also preferred positively skewed gambles more, but negatively skewed gambles less than symmetric gambles of equal expected value. Individual differences in both NAcc activity and positive arousal predicted preferences for positively skewed gambles. These findings support an anticipatory affect account in which statistical properties of gambles--including skewness--can influence neural activity, affective responses, and ultimately, choice.
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    Led into Temptation? Rewarding Brand Logos Bias the Neural Encoding of Incidental Economic Decisions
    Murawski, C ; Harris, PG ; Bode, S ; Dominguez D, JF ; Egan, GF ; Zhan, W (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2012-03-30)
    Human decision-making is driven by subjective values assigned to alternative choice options. These valuations are based on reward cues. It is unknown, however, whether complex reward cues, such as brand logos, may bias the neural encoding of subjective value in unrelated decisions. In this functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, we subliminally presented brand logos preceding intertemporal choices. We demonstrated that priming biased participants' preferences towards more immediate rewards in the subsequent temporal discounting task. This was associated with modulations of the neural encoding of subjective values of choice options in a network of brain regions, including but not restricted to medial prefrontal cortex. Our findings demonstrate the general susceptibility of the human decision making system to apparently incidental contextual information. We conclude that the brain incorporates seemingly unrelated value information that modifies decision making outside the decision-maker's awareness.
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    A systematic examination of the use of Online social networking sites for sexual health promotion
    Gold, J ; Pedrana, AE ; Sacks-Davis, R ; Hellard, ME ; Chang, S ; Howard, S ; Keogh, L ; Hocking, JS ; Stoove, MA (BMC, 2011-07-21)
    BACKGROUND: In recent years social networking sites (SNSs) have grown rapidly in popularity. The popularity of these sites, along with their interactive functions, offer a novel environment in which to deliver health promotion messages. The aim of this paper is to examine the extent to which SNSs are currently being used for sexual health promotion and describe the breadth of these activities. METHODS: We conducted a systematic search of published scientific literature, electronic sources (general and scientific search engines, blogs) and SNSs (Facebook, MySpace) to identify existing sexual health promotion activities using SNSs. Health promotion activities were eligible for inclusion if they related to sexual health or behaviour, utilised one or more SNSs, and involved some element of health promotion. Information regarding the source and type of health promotion activity, target population and site activity were extracted. RESULTS: 178 sexual health promotion activities met the inclusion criteria and were included in the review; only one activity was identified through a traditional systematic search of the published scientific literature. Activities most commonly used one SNS, were conducted by not-for-profit organisations, targeted young people and involved information delivery. Facebook was the most commonly used SNS (used by 71% of all health promotion activities identified), followed by MySpace and Twitter. Seventy nine percent of activities on MySpace were considered inactive as there had been no online posts within the past month, compared to 22% of activities using Facebook and 14% of activities using Twitter. The number of end-users and posts in the last seven days varied greatly between health promotion activities. CONCLUSIONS: SNSs are being used for sexual health promotion, although the extent to which they are utilised varies greatly, and the vast majority of activities are unreported in the scientific literature. Future studies should examine the key factors for success among those activities attracting a large and active user base, and how success might be measured, in order to guide the development of future health promotion activities in this emerging setting.
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    Is Australia HFT-friendly?
    Comerton-Forde, C (Financial Services Institute of Australasia, 2012)
    Stephen Satchell’s paper ‘An assessment of the social desirability of high-frequency trading’, in this issue of JASSA examines the costs and benefits, and highlights some empirical evidence on the impact of HFT on market quality and welfare. Building on Satchell’s paper, this paper provides a perspective on HFT in the Australian market and identifies the factors influencing its attractiveness to HFT players. It also compares the US and Australian markets in terms of these factors to indicate the growth prospects for HFT activity in Australia.
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    Saccadic Eye Movement Characteristics in Adult Niemann-Pick Type C Disease: Relationships with Disease Severity and Brain Structural Measures
    Abel, LA ; Bowman, EA ; Velakoulis, D ; Fahey, MC ; Desmond, P ; Macfarlane, MD ; Looi, JCL ; Adamson, CL ; Walterfang, M ; Martinez-Conde, S (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2012-11-30)
    Niemann-Pick Type C disease (NPC) is a rare genetic disorder of lipid metabolism. A parameter related to horizontal saccadic peak velocity was one of the primary outcome measures in the clinical trial assessing miglustat as a treatment for NPC. Neuropathology is widespread in NPC, however, and could be expected to affect other saccadic parameters. We compared horizontal saccadic velocity, latency, gain, antisaccade error percentage and self-paced saccade generation in 9 adult NPC patients to data from 10 age-matched controls. These saccadic measures were correlated with appropriate MRI-derived brain structural measures (e.g., dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, frontal eye fields, supplemental eye fields, parietal eye fields, pons, midbrain and cerebellar vermis) and with measures of disease severity and duration. The best discriminators between groups were reflexive saccade gain and the two volitional saccade measures. Gain was also the strongest correlate with disease severity and duration. Most of the saccadic measures showed strongly significant correlations with neurophysiologically appropriate brain regions. While our patient sample is small, the apparent specificity of these relationships suggests that as new diagnostic methods and treatments become available for NPC, a broader range of saccadic measures may be useful tools for the assessment of disease progression and treatment efficacy.