The number of scientific papers published every year continues to increase, but scientific knowledge is not progressing at the same rate. Here we argue that a greater emphasis on falsification - the direct testing of strong hypotheses - would lead to faster progress by allowing well-specified hypotheses to be eliminated. We describe an example from neuroscience where there has been little work to directly test two prominent but incompatible hypotheses related to traumatic brain injury. Based on this example, we discuss how building strong hypotheses and then setting out to falsify them can bring greater precision to the clinical neurosciences, and argue that this approach could be beneficial to all areas of science.
There are no data associated with this article.
The authors declare that there was no funding for this work.
- Peter Rodgers, eLife, United Kingdom
© 2022, Rajtmajer et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Investigating how, when, and what subjects learn during decision-making tasks requires tracking their choice strategies on a trial-by-trial basis. Here we present a simple but effective probabilistic approach to tracking choice strategies at trial resolution using Bayesian evidence accumulation. We show this approach identifies both successful learning and the exploratory strategies used in decision tasks performed by humans, non-human primates, rats, and synthetic agents. Both when subjects learn and when rules change the exploratory strategies of win-stay and lose-shift, often considered complementary, are consistently used independently. Indeed, we find the use of lose-shift is strong evidence that subjects have latently learnt the salient features of a new rewarded rule. Our approach can be extended to any discrete choice strategy, and its low computational cost is ideally suited for real-time analysis and closed-loop control.
An animal entering a new environment typically faces three challenges: explore the space for resources, memorize their locations, and navigate towards those targets as needed. Here we propose a neural algorithm that can solve all these problems and operates reliably in diverse and complex environments. At its core, the mechanism makes use of a behavioral module common to all motile animals, namely the ability to follow an odor to its source. We show how the brain can learn to generate internal “virtual odors” that guide the animal to any location of interest. This endotaxis algorithm can be implemented with a simple 3-layer neural circuit using only biologically realistic structures and learning rules. Several neural components of this scheme are found in brains from insects to humans. Nature may have evolved a general mechanism for search and navigation on the ancient backbone of chemotaxis.