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A cost minimisation and Bayesian inference model predicts startle reflex modulation across species

Bach, DR; (2015) A cost minimisation and Bayesian inference model predicts startle reflex modulation across species. Journal of Theoretical Biology , 370 pp. 53-60. 10.1016/j.jtbi.2015.01.031. Green open access

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Abstract

In many species, rapid defensive reflexes are paramount to escaping acute danger. These reflexes are modulated by the state of the environment. This is exemplified in fear-potentiated startle, a more vigorous startle response during conditioned anticipation of an unrelated threatening event. Extant explanations of this phenomenon build on descriptive models of underlying psychological states, or neural processes. Yet, they fail to predict invigorated startle during reward anticipation and instructed attention, and do not explain why startle reflex modulation evolved. Here, we fill this lacuna by developing a normative cost minimisation model based on Bayesian optimality principles. This model predicts the observed pattern of startle modification by rewards, punishments, instructed attention, and several other states. Moreover, the mathematical formalism furnishes predictions that can be tested experimentally. Comparing the model with existing data suggests a specific neural implementation of the underlying computations which yields close approximations to the optimal solution under most circumstances. This analysis puts startle modification into the framework of Bayesian decision theory and predictive coding, and illustrates the importance of an adaptive perspective to interpret defensive behaviour across species.

Type: Article
Title: A cost minimisation and Bayesian inference model predicts startle reflex modulation across species
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2015.01.031
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jtbi.2015.01.031
Language: English
Additional information: & 2015 The Author. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)
Keywords: Emotion, Fear, Motivational priming
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 > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Imaging Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1470826
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