Emergence of Adaptive Circadian Rhythms in Deep Reinforcement Learning
Proceedings of the 40th International Conference on Machine Learning, PMLR 202:18153-18170, 2023.
Adapting to regularities of the environment is critical for biological organisms to anticipate events and plan. A prominent example is the circadian rhythm corresponding to the internalization by organisms of the $24$-hour period of the Earth’s rotation. In this work, we study the emergence of circadian-like rhythms in deep reinforcement learning agents. In particular, we deployed agents in an environment with a reliable periodic variation while solving a foraging task. We systematically characterize the agent’s behavior during learning and demonstrate the emergence of a rhythm that is endogenous and entrainable. Interestingly, the internal rhythm adapts to shifts in the phase of the environmental signal without any re-training. Furthermore, we show via bifurcation and phase response curve analyses how artificial neurons develop dynamics to support the internalization of the environmental rhythm. From a dynamical systems view, we demonstrate that the adaptation proceeds by the emergence of a stable periodic orbit in the neuron dynamics with a phase response that allows an optimal phase synchronisation between the agent’s dynamics and the environmental rhythm.