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The Homeostatic Logic of Reward

By Tobias Morville, Karl Friston, Denis Burdakov, Hartwig R Siebner, Oliver J Hulme

Posted 05 Jan 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/242974

Energy homeostasis depends on behavior to predictively regulate metabolic states within narrow bounds. Here we review three theories of homeostatic control and ask how they provide insight into the circuitry underlying energy homeostasis. We offer two contributions. First, we detail how control theory and reinforcement learning are applied to homeostatic control. We show how these schemes rest on implausible assumptions; either via circular definitions, unprincipled drive functions, or by ignoring environmental volatility. We argue that active inference can elude these shortcomings while retaining important features of the model. Second, we review the neural basis of energetic control. We focus on a subset of arcuate subpopulations that project directly to, and are thus in a privileged position to opponently modulate dopaminergic cells as a function of energetic predictions over a spectrum of time horizons. We discuss how this can be interpreted under these theories, and how this can resolve paradoxes that have arisen. We propose this circuit constitutes a homeostatic-reward interface that underwrites the conjoint optimisation of physiological and behavioral homeostasis.

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