June 26, 2010 at 11:30 am #104101
IMO an interesting confirmation that at least some, if not all some day, decision processing can in fact be measured…
From Science Daily:
Crayfish Brain May Offer Rare Insight Into Human Decision Making
ScienceDaily (June 16, 2010) — Crayfish make surprisingly complex, cost-benefit calculations, finds a University of Maryland study — opening the door to a new line of research that may help unravel the cellular brain activity involved in human decisions.
The Maryland psychologists conclude that crayfish make an excellent, practical model for identifying the specific neural circuitry and neurochemistry of decision making. They believe their study is the first to isolate individual crayfish neurons involved in value-based decisions. Currently, there’s no direct way to do this with a human brain.
The experiments offered the crayfish stark decisions — a choice between finding their next meal and becoming a meal for an apparent predator. In deciding on a course of action, they carefully weighed the risk of attack against the expected reward, Herberholz says.
Using a non-invasive method that allowed the crustaceans to freely move, the researchers offered juvenile Louisiana Red Swamp crayfish a simultaneous threat and reward: ahead lay the scent of food, but also the apparent approach of a predator.
The researchers conclude that there is little incentive for retreat when the predator appears to be moving too rapidly for escape, and the crayfish would lose its own opportunity to eat. This was also true when the food odor was the strongest, raising the benefit of staying close to the expected reward. A strong predator stimulus, however, was able to override an attractive food signal, and crayfish decided to flip away under these conditions.
“Our results indicate that when the respective values of tail-flipping and freezing change, the crayfish adjust their choices accordingly, thus preserving adaptive action selection,” the researchers write. “We have now shown that crayfish, similar to organisms of higher complexity, integrate different sensory stimuli that are present in their environment, and they select a behavioural output according to the current values for each choice.”
June 26, 2010 at 2:15 pm #104103
Neuroscience is an exciting field with fascinating discoveries all the time. Interesting article about the crayfish although I don’t know how applicable the findings are to humans given that crayfish don’t have as sophisticated emotional structure as humans. A large part of our decisionmaking is heavily-influenced by our emotions.
You might find these books interesting:
Why Choose This Book?: How We Make Decisions
by Read Montague
How We Decide
by Jonah Lehrer
You Are What You Choose: The Habits of Mind That Really Determine How We Make Decisions
by Scott de Marchi and James T. Hamilton
Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
by Dan Ariely
The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home
by Dan Ariely
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