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Elife. 2014 Dec 9;3. doi: 10.7554/eLife.04220.

Maximally informative foraging by Caenorhabditis elegans.

Author information

1
Neurosciences Graduate Program, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, United States.

Abstract

Animals have evolved intricate search strategies to find new sources of food. Here, we analyze a complex food seeking behavior in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) to derive a general theory describing different searches. We show that C. elegans, like many other animals, uses a multi-stage search for food, where they initially explore a small area intensively ('local search') before switching to explore a much larger area ('global search'). We demonstrate that these search strategies as well as the transition between them can be quantitatively explained by a maximally informative search strategy, where the searcher seeks to continuously maximize information about the target. Although performing maximally informative search is computationally demanding, we show that a drift-diffusion model can approximate it successfully with just three neurons. Our study reveals how the maximally informative search strategy can be implemented and adopted to different search conditions.

KEYWORDS:

C. elegans; decision making; drift-diffusion model; information theory; neuroscience

PMID:
25490069
PMCID:
PMC4358340
DOI:
10.7554/eLife.04220
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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