Intrinsically motivated oculomotor exploration guided by uncertainty reduction and conditioned reinforcement in non-human primates

Nabil Daddaoua; Lopes, Manuel; Gottlieb, Jacqueline

Intelligent animals have a high degree of curiosity – the intrinsic desire to know – but the mechanisms of curiosity are poorly understood. A key open question pertains to the internal valuation systems that drive curiosity. What are the cognitive and emotional factors that motivate animals to seek information when this is not reinforced by instrumental rewards? Using a novel oculomotor paradigm, combined with reinforcement learning (RL) simulations, we show that monkeys are intrinsically motivated to search for and look at reward-predictive cues, and that their intrinsic motivation is shaped by a desire to reduce uncertainty, a desire to obtain conditioned reinforcement from positive cues, and individual variations in decision strategy and the cognitive costs of acquiring information. The results suggest that free-viewing oculomotor behavior reveals cognitive and emotional factors underlying the curiosity driven sampling of information.


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Scientific Reports

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April 28, 2017