Herbstakademie Wildbad Kreuth 2007 (22.8.07/Tsch)


Gregor SCHOENER Bochum (D)

Dynamic Field Theory as a framework for understanding embodied cognition

Understanding embodied and situated cognition means understanding how cognitive processes are closely linked to sensory and motor processes and depend on the behavioral and environmental history and context in which they unfold. Such understanding must be based on principles of neural function. Although neurons are discrete units, their discreteness is unrelated to discreteness in behavior, such as when people respond categorically to stimulus or task continua. Similarly, the discrete time structure of neural spiking events is unrelated to discrete behavioral events, such as the initiation of a motor act. The neuronal level of description appropriate for understanding behavior is thus spatio-temporally continuous. Dynamical field theory is a neurally inspired theoretical framework which accounts for how decision events emerge from continous time processes, how cognitive functions emerge from neuronal interaciton, and how experience structures behavior. The talk will illustrate these ideas by references to models of movement planning, working memory, and discrimination as well as by showing how such models enable robots to acquire simple perceptual representations.

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