A Primer on Foraging and the Explore/Exploit Trade-Off for Psychiatry Research.

Journal Article (Journal Article;Review)

Foraging is a fundamental behavior, and many types of animals appear to have solved foraging problems using a shared set of mechanisms. Perhaps the most common foraging problem is the choice between exploiting a familiar option for a known reward and exploring unfamiliar options for unknown rewards-the so-called explore/exploit trade-off. This trade-off has been studied extensively in behavioral ecology and computational neuroscience, but is relatively new to the field of psychiatry. Explore/exploit paradigms can offer psychiatry research a new approach to studying motivation, outcome valuation, and effort-related processes, which are disrupted in many mental and emotional disorders. In addition, the explore/exploit trade-off encompasses elements of risk-taking and impulsivity-common behaviors in psychiatric disorders-and provides a novel framework for understanding these behaviors within an ecological context. Here we explain relevant concepts and some common paradigms used to measure explore/exploit decisions in the laboratory, review clinically relevant research on the neurobiology and neuroanatomy of explore/exploit decision making, and discuss how computational psychiatry can benefit from foraging theory.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Addicott, MA; Pearson, JM; Sweitzer, MM; Barack, DL; Platt, ML

Published Date

  • September 2017

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 42 / 10

Start / End Page

  • 1931 - 1939

PubMed ID

  • 28553839

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC5561336

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1740-634X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1038/npp.2017.108


  • eng

Conference Location

  • England