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Mice adaptively generate choice variability in a deterministic task

Abstract : Can decisions be made solely by chance? Can variability be intrinsic to the decision-maker or is it inherited from environmental conditions? To investigate these questions, we designed a deterministic setting in which mice are rewarded for non-repetitive choice sequences, and modeled the experiment using reinforcement learning. We found that mice progressively increased their choice variability. Although an optimal strategy based on sequences learning was theoretically possible and would be more rewarding, animals used a pseudo-random selection which ensures high success rate. This was not the case if the animal is exposed to a uniform probabilistic reward delivery. We also show that mice were blind to changes in the temporal structure of reward delivery once they learned to choose at random. Overall, our results demonstrate that a decision-making process can self-generate variability and ran-domness, even when the rules governing reward delivery are neither stochastic nor volatile.
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Marwen Belkaid, Elise Bousseyrol, Romain Durand-de Cuttoli, Malou Dongelmans, Etienne Duranté, et al.. Mice adaptively generate choice variability in a deterministic task. Communications Biology, Nature Publishing Group, 2020, 3, pp.34. ⟨10.1038/s42003-020-0759-x⟩. ⟨hal-02485779⟩

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