Decision making is a necessary process for most organisms, even for the majority of known life forms: those without a brain or neurons. The goal of this review is to highlight research dedicated to understanding complex decision making in non-neuronal organisms, and to suggest avenues for furthering this work. We review research demonstrating key aspects of complex decision making, in particular information integration and multiattribute decision making, in non-neuronal organisms when (1) utilizing adaptive search strategies when foraging, (2) choosing between resources and environmental conditions that have several contradictory attributes and necessitate a trade-off, and (3) incorporating social cues and environmental factors when living in a group or colony. We discuss potential similarities between decision making in non-neuronal organisms and other systems, such as insect colonies and the mammalian brain, and we suggest future avenues of research that use appropriate experimental design and that take advantage of emerging imaging technologies.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology
- Compensatory decision making