Neural circuits for information seeking


March 21, 2017 - 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Northwest 243
About the Speaker
Ethan Bromberg-Martin
Speaker Affiliation: 
Columbia University

Humans and animals often express a strong preference to discover what the future holds rather than remain in a state of ignorance, often placing much greater value on this information than its ‘objective’ worth for helping them make better decisions. However, the detailed mechanisms of this preference are largely unknown. I will present evidence from neural and behavioral studies indicating that information seeking is tied to an animal’s ability judge a specific type of uncertainty about future outcomes, and to place value on reducing that uncertainty. I will also present preliminary work suggesting that this type of information seeking behavior may have emerged as an evolved ‘rule of thumb’ for maximizing reward in natural environments.