We’ve already touched on the fact that the zombie brain must have at least some limited capacity to learn, or the undead wouldn’t even be able to cross the street.  Now a study from the California Institute of Technology may shed light on difference between learning in humans and zombies.

CalTech finds that humans use a complex combination of two thought processes to navigate through their world: 1) model-free learning, and 2) model-based learning.  Domain-b.com explains:

“Model-free learning relies on trial-and-error comparisons between the reward we expect in a given situation and the reward we actually get.”

By contrast, model-based learning is a more complex system whereby the the brain builds a virtual map of the environment to understand different situations.

In simple terms, a model-free thinker sticks with what they know from past experience, and isn’t able to make sudden strategic shifts.  It is a limited process when not combined with the higher functioning model-base system.

More research is required, but if zombies are indeed unable to accomplish complex tasks like unlocking doors and using weapons, it may have much more to do with their strict model-free view of the world, than any shortcoming in their physical ability.



  1. I feel this entire theory is irrelevant because zombies don’t have the ability to comprehend the world as humans do. we use our frontal cortex to help make decisions in accordance with our environment. Zombies do not have the use of the frontal cortex, only the hind and some parts of the mid brain. This would explain the extremely instinctual reactions of zombies, there goal is simply survival and passing on the infection to keep it alive.

  2. Like a doggy! 😀 maybe we could train the zombies not to eat us!

  3. Very cool, and informative!

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