Neuroethology of decision-making.

Journal Article (Review)

A neuroethological approach to decision-making considers the effect of evolutionary pressures on neural circuits mediating choice. In this view, decision systems are expected to enhance fitness with respect to the local environment, and particularly efficient solutions to specific problems should be conserved, expanded, and repurposed to solve other problems. Here, we discuss basic prerequisites for a variety of decision systems from this viewpoint. We focus on two of the best-studied and most widely represented decision problems. First, we examine patch leaving, a prototype of environmentally based switching between action patterns. Second, we consider social information seeking, a process resembling foraging with search costs. We argue that while the specific neural solutions to these problems sometimes differ across species, both the problems themselves and the algorithms instantiated by biological hardware are repeated widely throughout nature. The behavioral and mathematical study of ubiquitous decision processes like patch leaving and social information seeking thus provides a powerful new approach to uncovering the fundamental design structure of nervous systems.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Adams, GK; Watson, KK; Pearson, J; Platt, ML

Published Date

  • December 2012

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 22 / 6

Start / End Page

  • 982 - 989

PubMed ID

  • 22902613

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1873-6882

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0959-4388

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.conb.2012.07.009

Language

  • eng