Monkey plays Pac-Man with compositional strategies and hierarchical decision-making


Humans can often handle daunting tasks with ease by developing a set of strategies to reduce decision-making into simpler problems. The ability to use heuristic strategies demands an advanced level of intelligence and has not been demonstrated in animals. Here, we trained macaque monkeys to play the classic video game Pac-Man. The monkeys’ decision-making may be described with a strategy-based hierarchical decision-making model with over 90% accuracy. The model reveals that the monkeys adopted the take-the-best heuristic by using one dominating strategy for their decision-making at a time and formed compound strategies by assembling the basis strategies to handle particular game situations. With the model, the computationally complex but fully quantifiable Pac-Man behavior paradigm provides a new approach to understanding animals’ advanced cognition.

Jiaqi Zhang
Jiaqi Zhang
PhD Student at Computer Science

My research interests include machine learning and bioinformatics.