Dynamic Modeling: BBS Call for Commentators

S. R. Harnad harnad at phoenix.Princeton.EDU
Thu Apr 19 23:48:47 EST 1990

Below is the abstract of a forthcoming target article to appear in
Behavioral and Brain Sciences (BBS), an international,
interdisciplinary journal providing Open Peer Commentary on important
and controversial current research in the biobehavioral and cognitive
sciences. To be considered as a commentator or to suggest other appropriate
commentators, please send email to:
	 harnad at confidence.princeton.edu              or write to:
BBS, 20 Nassau Street, #240, Princeton NJ 08542  [tel: 609-921-7771]

If you are not currently a BBS Associate, please send CV and indicate
qualifications for commenting on this article. 

        Modeling Behavioral Adaptations

              Colin W. Clark
        Institute of Applied Mathematics
         University of British Columbia
            Vancouver BC V6T 1Y4

ABSTRACT: The behavioral landscape for any individual organism is a
complex dynamical system consisting of the individual's own
physiological and mental states and the state of the physical and
biological environment in which it lives. To understand the adaptive
significance of behavioral traits one must formulate, analyse and test
simplified models of this complex landscape. The target article
describes a technique of dynamic behavioral modeling with many
desirable characteristics. There is an explicit treatment of state
variables and their dynamics. Darwinian fitness is represented
directly in terms of survival and reproduction. Behavioral decisions
are modeled simultaneously and sequentially with biologically
meaningful parameters and variables, generating empirically testable
predictions. The technique has been applied to field and laboratory
data in a wide variety of species and behaviors. Some limitations
result from the unwieldiness of large-scale dynamic models in
parameter estimation and numerical computation. (This article is a
follow-up to a previous BBS paper by Houston & Macnamara, but it can
be read independently.)

Keywords: Dynamic programming; optimization; control theory; game
theory; behavioral ecology; evolution; adaptation; fitness.
Stevan Harnad  Department of Psychology  Princeton University
harnad at clarity.princeton.edu       srh at flash.bellcore.com
harnad at elbereth.rutgers.edu    harnad at pucc.bitnet    (609)-921-7771

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