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Front. Behav. Neurosci. | doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2021.647732

Active inferants: The basis for an active inference framework for ant colony behavior Provisionally accepted The final, formatted version of the article will be published soon. Notify me

  • 1Department of Entomology and Nematology, University of California, Davis, United States
  • 2Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, University of Sussex, United Kingdom
  • 3School of Engineering and Informatics, University of Sussex, United Kingdom
  • 4Division of Social and Transcultural Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, Canada
  • 5Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging, University College London, United Kingdom
  • 6The University of Sydney, Australia

In this paper, we introduce an active inference model of ant colony foraging behavior, and implement the model in a series of in silico experiments. Active inference is a multiscale approach to behavioral modeling that is being applied across settings in theoretical biology and ethology. The ant colony is a classic case system in the function of distributed systems in terms of stigmergic decision-making and information sharing. Here we specify and simulate a Markov decision process (MDP) model for ant colony foraging. We investigate a well known paradigm from laboratory ant colony behavioral experiments, the alternating T-maze paradigm, to illustrate the ability of the model to recover basic colony phenomena such as trail formation after food location discovery. We conclude by outlining how the active inference ant colony foraging behavioral model can be extended and situated within a nested multiscale framework and systems approaches to biology more generally.

Keywords: Ants, foraging, active inference, Behavioral modeling, collective behavior, T-Maze, eco-evo-devo, stigmergy

Received: 30 Dec 2020; Accepted: 18 May 2021.

Copyright: © 2021 Friedman, Tschantz, Ramstead, Friston and Constant. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mx. Axel Constant, The University of Sydney, Darlington, Australia,