Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging researcher scoop Lloyd’s 2011 Science of Risk Prizes

1 December 2011

Klaus Wunderlich

Congratulations to UCL’s Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging Research Fellow, Klaus Wunderlich, who has won the Lloyd’s “Science of Risk” Prize in the category of Behavioural Risk. His paper was also voted “Best Overall Paper”. 

As the world’s leading insurance market, Lloyd’s is keenly interested in understanding and managing risks, and sponsors the Science of Risk Prize in order to keep track of and incentivise academic research in risk management.

Wunderlich and his team at WTCN took the top prize for their research which, using Functional Magnetic Imaging (fMRI) looked at the brains of study participants as they played a simple resource management game. The researchers continually changed the parameters of the game, varying risk and reward outcomes, and thus forcing participants to revise their predictions as they played. They found that generally participants learned as they played, changing their behaviour in light of the new information, and that they were more successful when they did this, than simply by trial and error. This research, which has important implications to the insurance market, suggests that humans are better adapted to learn from experience than from studying statistical charts or graphs, which have little real-world meaning to the majority of consumers.

Upon receiving the prize Wunderlich commented: "Our paper gives insight into how the brain is capable of learning structures in our environment, and how this helps us to reduce the risk in our choices. Apparently behavioural risk is a very important topic for insurance and I am delighted that our work got recognized by that industry."


Links:

Wunderlich's original paper

Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging

Lloyd’s Science of Risk Prize 

Related article: “60 seconds with…Klaus Wunderlich”