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Published July 2018 | Accepted Version
Journal Article Open

Foraging for foundations in decision neuroscience: insights from ethology


Modern decision neuroscience offers a powerful and broad account of human behaviour using computational techniques that link psychological and neuroscientific approaches to the ways that individuals can generate near-optimal choices in complex controlled environments. However, until recently, relatively little attention has been paid to the extent to which the structure of experimental environments relates to natural scenarios, and the survival problems that individuals have evolved to solve. This situation not only risks leaving decision-theoretic accounts ungrounded but also makes various aspects of the solutions, such as hard-wired or Pavlovian policies, difficult to interpret in the natural world. Here, we suggest importing concepts, paradigms and approaches from the fields of ethology and behavioural ecology, which concentrate on the contextual and functional correlates of decisions made about foraging and escape and address these lacunae.

Additional Information

© 2018 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature. Published: 11 May 2018. The authors thank T. Akam and the reviewers for their very stimulating comments. This work was supported by US National Institute of Mental Health grant 2P50MH094258 and a Chen Institute Award (P2026052) (support to D.M.), the Gatsby Charitable Foundation (support to P.D.) and the US National Science Foundation (support to D.T.B. and P.C.T.; P.C.T. was supported by an Integrative Organismal System grant (1456724) to A. Sih). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the authors' funders. Author Contributions: D.M., P.C.T., D.T.B. and P.D. researched data for the article, made substantial contributions to discussions of the content, wrote the article and reviewed and/or edited the manuscript before submission.

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August 19, 2023
October 18, 2023