October 12 2010

12:00 BSRB 154

Ecolunch: Willem Frankenhuis
Karthik Panchanathan

Dept of Anthropology, UCLA

Balancing learning and specialization: An adaptationist model of developmental systems


We present a model of how natural selection shapes ontogenetic adaptation. We use an adaptive dynamic program with Bayesian updating to model a tradeoff between learning about the state of the world and specializing towards a phenotypic target—specializing early may lead to a more adaptive phenotype, but learning yields a more accurate estimate of the state of the world. The model generates optimal developmental programs (i.e., policies) for a range of evolutionary ecological conditions. Our results show that the most reliance on learning is favored when cues are moderately, not highly, informative; stochastic sampling can lead to individual differences in plasticity itself; divergent evolutionary ecologies may result in similar developmental dynamics; organisms may miscalibrate despite stable ontogenetic environments; different developmental systems generate different kinds of phenotypic distributions. The model may inform studies of physiological calibration (e.g., stress reactivity), differential plasticity, reproductive strategy, and cultural learning of expertise.















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































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