Beyond the horizon. Exploration in unbounded spatial and cognitive search domains.

01 November 2022 → 31 October 2024
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Social sciences
    • Cognitive processes
    • Learning and behaviour
Decision making Computational modelling cognitive maps
Project description

How people choose to decide between various different options, has been the topic of the exponentially growing research field of economic or value-based decision-making. However, this research field mostly relied on paradigms that investigate human decisions between only two or three options, thereby underappreciating the vast decision spaces searching agents are typically faced with. Therefore, this project introduces an innovative paradigm to study generalization, exploration and exploitation in value-based decision-making tasks on more complex spatial and cognitive grids. Specifically, I will develop a computational model and behavioural experiments to understand human value-based decision-making in unbounded search spaces with costly transitions: first in spatial domains, but also in semantic and social “cognitive” domains. Last, I aim to look at individual differences in learning and exploration strategies, to investigate the generalisability of said strategies, and study their potential to explain important clinical traits, such as autism spectrum disorder. In sum, this project will shed important new light on how humans employ different search strategies in vast decision spaces, and, by investigating it across different domains, has the potential to offer critical insights into the domain-generality of these strategies and their relation to (sub)clinical traits.