Model Organisms for Studying Decision-Making: A Phylogenetically Expanded Perspective

Philosophy of Science 88 (5):1055-1066 (2021)
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This article explores the use of model organisms in studying the cognitive phenomenon of decision-making. Drawing on the framework of biological control to develop a skeletal conception of decision-making, we show that two core features of decision-making mechanisms can be identified by studying model organisms, such as E. coli, jellyfish, C. elegans, lamprey, and so on. First, decision mechanisms are distributed and heterarchically structured. Second, they depend heavily on chemical information processing, such as that involving neuromodulators. We end by discussing the implications for studying distinctively human decision-making.

Author Profiles

Linus Huang
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Leonardo Bich
University of the Basque Country


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