Direct Approach or Detour: A Comparative Model of Inhibition and Neural Ensemble Size in Behavior Selection

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Organisms must cope with different risk/reward landscapes in their ecological niche. Hence, species have evolved behavior and cognitive processes to optimally balance approach and avoidance. Navigation through space, including taking detours, appears also to be an essential element of consciousness. Such processes allow organisms to negotiate predation risk and natural geometry that obstruct foraging. One aspect of this is the ability to inhibit a direct approach toward a reward. Using an adaptation of the well-known detour paradigm in comparative psychology, but in a virtual world, we simulate how different neural configurations of inhibitive processes can yield behavior that approximates characteristics of different species. Results from simulations may help elucidate how evolutionary adaptation can shape inhibitive processing in particular and behavioral selection in general. More specifically, results indicate that both the level of inhibition that an organism can exert and the size of neural populations dedicated to inhibition contribute to successful detour navigation. According to our results, both factors help to facilitate detour behavior, but the latter (i.e., larger neural populations) appears to specifically reduce behavioral variation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number752219
JournalFrontiers in Systems Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Nov 9

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Behavioral Sciences Biology
  • Philosophy


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