Harnessing stochasticity: How do organisms make choices?

Chaos. 2018 Oct;28(10):106309. doi: 10.1063/1.5039668.


Choice in the behavior of organisms involves novelty, which may be unpredictable. Yet in retrospect, we can usually provide a rationale for the choice. A deterministic view of life cannot explain this. The solution to this paradox is that organisms can harness stochasticity through which they can generate many possible solutions to environmental challenges. They must then employ a comparator to find the solution that fits the challenge. What therefore is unpredictable in prospect can become comprehensible in retrospect. Harnessing stochastic and/or chaotic processes is essential to the ability of organisms to have agency and to make choices.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Choice Behavior*
  • DNA
  • Drosophila
  • Environment
  • Humans
  • Immune System
  • Immunoglobulins / chemistry
  • Mutation
  • Nonlinear Dynamics
  • Plant Physiological Phenomena
  • Population Dynamics*
  • Primates
  • Stochastic Processes*


  • Immunoglobulins
  • DNA