Cross inhibition improves activity selection when switching incurs time costs

James A R Marshall*, Angélique Favreau-Peigné, Lutz Fromhage, John M. McNamara, Lianne F S Meah, Alasdair I. Houston

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


We consider a behavioural model of an animal choosing between two activities, based on positive feedback, and examine the effect of introducing cross inhibition between the motivations for the two activities. While cross-inhibition has previously been included in models of decision making, the question of what benefit it may provide to an animal’s activity selection behaviour has not previously been studied. In neuroscience and in collective behaviour cross-inhibition, and other equivalent means of coupling evidence-accumulating pathways, have been shown to approximate statistically-optimal decision-making and to adaptively break deadlock, thereby improving decision performance. Switching between activities is an ongoing decision process yet here we also find that cross-inhibition robustly improves its efficiency, by reducing the frequency of costly switches between behaviours.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-250
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Zoology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Activity selection
  • Behaviour
  • Crossinhibition
  • Foraging
  • Geometric framework
  • Neuroscience


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