Hi, this is Kate from MinuteEarth.
Let’s find some cat memes!
This site looks good – yeah,
there’s some funny kittehs and some great cattos on here!
But, well, hmm…the pickings are definitely getting slimmer.
Maybe we should try another site?
But that means we have to FIND another site!
And we’re already here…
So, should we stay or should we go?
Well, it turns out that online, we forage for information just as,
say, a chickadee forages for fruit.
It has to choose which tree to visit
and decide how long to nom there
before abandoning it and finding another.
Ecologists already have all sorts of models to describe how animals forage.
And it turns out that one of these models,
which explains how animals move between patches of food,
also predicts how humans move between websites
both you and the chickadee will forage in one place
until the rate of reward you’re getting there drops below
what you think you’re likely to get elsewhere.
This calculation is subconscious, of course,
you’ll just notice the tree is getting bare
and move on.
But you actually spending your time and energy in a way
that gets you as much reward as possible
and that’s something foraging animals, and humans, do all the time.
For instance, we’ve found
that chipmunks that take longer seed-gathering trips
bring back bigger hauls than those that take short ones.
That makes sense,
it’s only worth spending lots of resources if you can score big.
And a study of more than 400 robberies in the Netherlands
found that the farther burglars travel to commit their crimes,
the more expensive their loot tends to be.
Researchers have even found that the longer
we search for a romantic partner,
the more likely that relationship is to last.
Perhaps a bigger investment leads to a better payoff.
We probably optimize like animals because we are animals,
and in fact, we share critical
For instance, monkeys have special neurons that
seem to track the rate of reward the
monkey is getting in a patch,
when it drops too low,
the neurons send an electrical signal to the monkey,
who switches to a new patch.
We also have these neurons
and there’s evidence to suggest that lots of other animals do, too.
They were likely so critical
to making good food-finding tradeoffs in the distant past
that they were passed on over lots of generations.
This kind of shared machinery may help explain
why we behave like our non-human kin.
Of course, most of us humans now find ourselves evaluating
how fruitful websites are much more often
than how fruitful fruit trees are,
and the stakes of wasting your time on dumb cat memes
are far lower than wasting your time searching for sustance.
But it’s not just web surfing.
At what point do you move on from a lame TV show,
or ditch the long line at the DMV,
or give up on a job,
or even a relationship that you’re not that into?
It turns out that the constraints， and the underlying machinery
that guide us in these everyday scenarios
are likely the same as those that guide animals…
which means, that deep inside,
we’re all a little bird-brained.
This video was sponsored by the University of Minnesota,
where students, faculty and staff across all fields of study
are working to solve the Grand Challenges facing society.
One of these challenges is Enhancing Individual
and Community Capacity for a Changing World
so that we can help people make good choices,
like staying healthy, in an ever-changing environment.
Ben Hayden, in the Department of Neuroscience,
Ben Hayden 来自神经系统科学部
studies the biological mechanisms,
like reward-tracking neurons,
that we use to evaluate choices.
And Dave Stephens, in the Department of Ecology,
Dave Stephens 来自生态学部
Evolution and Behavior, investigates behaviors
like foraging from an evolutionary standpoint
to help us understand the broad forces that
have shaped our decision-making process.
Thanks, University of Minnesota!
Hi, this is Kate from MinuteEarth.