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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. Cognitive Science 10.1111/cogs.12695. (In press). 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: Article
Title: Generalization and Search in Risky Environments
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/cogs.12695
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1111/cogs.12695
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Exploration-Exploitation, Function learning, Generalization, Risky choices
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
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Division of Psychiatry
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10062489
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