Error as learning strategy in rats

Research on rodents suggests that making different decisions faced with equal challenges could confirm that error is an in-built part of the learning process.  

Researchers from EARA member Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, Portugal, Harvard Medical School, USA, and the University of Geneva, Switzerland, tested the decision-making of rats with tasks requiring their use of the sense of smell.

The findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, show that rats take, on average, the same amount of time to make both hard and easy decisions.

The rats’ behaviour did not follow a common decision-making rule, where you would expect to take more time to make a difficult decision.

“This strategy is consistent with a world-view where the environment is continuously changing, which leads the animals to update their decision-making approach on a trial-by-trial basis”, said Jan Drugowitsch, of Harvard Medical School.

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