Sequential Decision-Making in Ants and Implications to the Evidence Accumulation Decision Model

Oran Ayalon, Yigal Sternklar, Ehud Fonio, Amos Korman, Nir S. Gov, Ofer Feinerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cooperative transport of large food loads by Paratrechina longicornis ants demands repeated decision-making. Inspired by the Evidence Accumulation (EA) model classically used to describe decision-making in the brain, we conducted a binary choice experiment where carrying ants rely on social information to choose between two paths. We found that the carried load performs a biased random walk that continuously alternates between the two options. We show that this motion constitutes a physical realization of the abstract EA model and exhibits an emergent version of the psychophysical Weber’s law. In contrast to the EA model, we found that the load’s random step size is not fixed but, rather, varies with both evidence and circumstances. Using theoretical modeling we show that variable step size expands the scope of the EA model from isolated to sequential decisions. We hypothesize that this phenomenon may also be relevant in neuronal circuits that perform sequential decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number672773
JournalFrontiers in Applied Mathematics and Statistics
StatePublished - 14 Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright © 2021 Ayalon, Sternklar, Fonio, Korman, Gov and Feinerman.


  • collective cognition
  • collective decision making
  • decision theory
  • drift diffusion model
  • dynamical systems
  • evidence accumulation model
  • social insects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Applied Mathematics


Dive into the research topics of 'Sequential Decision-Making in Ants and Implications to the Evidence Accumulation Decision Model'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this