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Generalization and search in risky environments

Schulz, E; Wu, CM; Huys, QJM; Krause, A; Speekenbrink, M; (2018) Generalization and search in risky environments. BioRxiv: Cold Spring Harbor, NY, USA. Green open access

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Abstract

How do people pursue rewards in risky environments, where some outcomes should be avoided at all costs? We investigate how participant search for spatially correlated rewards in scenarios where one must avoid sampling rewards below a given threshold. This requires not only the balancing of exploration and exploitation, but also reasoning about how to avoid potentially risky areas of the search space. Within risky versions of the spatially correlated multi-armed bandit task, we show that participants’ behavior is aligned well with a Gaussian process function learning algorithm, which chooses points based on a safe optimization routine. Moreover, using leave-one-block-out cross-validation, we find that participants adapt their sampling behavior to the riskiness of the task, although the underlying function learning mechanism remains relatively unchanged. These results show that participants can adapt their search behavior to the adversity of the environment and enrich our understanding of adaptive behavior in the face of risk and uncertainty.

Type: Working / discussion paper
Title: Generalization and search in risky environments
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1101/227322
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1101/227322
Language: English
Additional information: The copyright holder for this preprint is the author/funder, who has granted bioRxiv a license to display the preprint in perpetuity. It is made available under a CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 International license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10062024
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