The next time you set a trap for that rat running around in your basement, here's something to consider: you are going up against an opponent whose ability to assess the situation and make decisions is statistically just as good as yours. A Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) study that compared the ability of humans and rodents to make perceptual decisions based on combining different modes of sensory stimuli -- visual and auditory cues, for instance -- has found that just like humans, rodents also combine multisensory information and exploit it in a "statistically optimal" way -- or the most efficient and unbiased way possible. Science Daily, Mar. 13, 2012
The author, LeDoux, proposes a reconceptualization of key phenomena important in the study of emotion—those phenomena that reflect functions and circuits related to survival, and that are shared by humans and other animals. The approach shifts the focus from questions about whether emotions that humans consciously feel are also present in other animals, and toward questions about the extent to which circuits and corresponding functions that are present in other animals (survival circuits and functions) are also present in humans. Survival circuit functions are not causally related to emotional feelings but obviously contribute to these, at least indirectly. The survival circuit concept integrates ideas about emotion, motivation, reinforcement, and arousal in the effort to understand how organisms survive and thrive by detecting and responding to challenges and opportunities in daily life.