Habits and goals in synergy: a variational Bayesian framework for behavior

by   Dongqi Han, et al.

How to behave efficiently and flexibly is a central problem for understanding biological agents and creating intelligent embodied AI. It has been well known that behavior can be classified as two types: reward-maximizing habitual behavior, which is fast while inflexible; and goal-directed behavior, which is flexible while slow. Conventionally, habitual and goal-directed behaviors are considered handled by two distinct systems in the brain. Here, we propose to bridge the gap between the two behaviors, drawing on the principles of variational Bayesian theory. We incorporate both behaviors in one framework by introducing a Bayesian latent variable called "intention". The habitual behavior is generated by using prior distribution of intention, which is goal-less; and the goal-directed behavior is generated by the posterior distribution of intention, which is conditioned on the goal. Building on this idea, we present a novel Bayesian framework for modeling behaviors. Our proposed framework enables skill sharing between the two kinds of behaviors, and by leveraging the idea of predictive coding, it enables an agent to seamlessly generalize from habitual to goal-directed behavior without requiring additional training. The proposed framework suggests a fresh perspective for cognitive science and embodied AI, highlighting the potential for greater integration between habitual and goal-directed behaviors.


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