The stochastic nature of neuronal networks in decision making.

An intriguing experiment shows that different mice respond differently to pleasure and pain. The pleasure in question derived from the self-stimulus of the dopaminergic system. The pain in question was an electric shock. For most mice, the latter was enough to stop them doing the former. But, in a bizarre example of decision making, a minority of the mice took the pain to get the pleasure. The same types of circuit may be at work when drug addicts persist despite spiralling towards destruction. The neuronal networks that underpin most decision making operate stochastically, i.e., with probabilistic outcomes. The researchers speculate that the reason for the differing reactions of the mice may be ‘stochastic individuality’. That sounds plausible. Watch out in the future for more on how stochastics determines our personalities.

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