Interacting with volatile environments stabilizes hidden-state inference and its brain signatures

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Author Name

Aurélien Weiss

Valérian Chambon

Junseok K. Lee


Jan Drugowitsch

Valentin Wyart

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Making accurate decisions in uncertain environments requires identifying the generative cause of sensory cues, but also the expected outcomes of possible actions. Although both cognitive processes can be formalized as Bayesian inference, they are commonly studied using different experimental frameworks, making their formal comparison difficult. Here, by framing a reversal learning task either as cue-based or outcome-based inference, we found that humans perceive the same volatile environment as more stable when inferring its hidden state by interaction with uncertain outcomes than by observation of equally uncertain cues. Multivariate patterns of magnetoencephalo-graphic (MEG) activity reflected this behavioral difference in the neural interaction between inferred beliefs and incoming evidence, an effect originating from associative regions in the temporal lobe. Together, these findings indicate that the degree of control over the sampling of volatile environments shapes human learning and decision-making under uncertainty. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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