Exploiting and exploring the options

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Science  27 Jun 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6191, pp. 1446-1447
DOI: 10.1126/science.1256862

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In an ever-changing world, the brain must continually formulate, monitor, and adapt patterns of behavior to achieve the best outcome. Often, strategies that we have employed in the past to solve a problem or reach a specific result will work again when we are confronted with a similar situation. When this is the case, we can exploit such strategies for maximal gain. However, if important aspects of the environment or context have changed, we need to modify our behavior and explore new action strategies. How does the brain monitor and adapt our behavior or create altogether new strategies? On page 1481 of this issue, Donoso et al. (1) provide key algorithmic and neurobiological insights into how the human brain accomplishes such feats.