Research Alert

How do worms make decisions? A new study by New York University neuroscientist Kenway Louie finds the following:

(1) Even the simple worm (302 neurons) shows primarily rational choice behavior, suggesting a strong evolutionary pressure for efficient decision making

(2) Worms also show, in select situations, the same kinds of irrational behavior seen in humans and other animals

(3) These irrationalities are explained by a simple biological rule ("asymmetric overlap") based on the pattern of brain activation by choice options, suggesting that rationality vs. irrationality is generated - in this case - by basic biology

(4) These effects are captured by a simple computational model that explains choice behavior in monkeys and humans, showing a cross-species conservation of computation 

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-11715-7

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Nature Communications