The Life & Mind Seminar Network

Seminar #65: Behavioural robustness and distributed mechanisms of cognitive behaviour

Posted in Seminars by Tom Froese on May 11, 2010

Jose will be presenting a Life and Mind Seminar this Friday. Everyone is welcome!

This Friday, 14 May 2010
16:00-17:00, ARUNDEL 404

Behavioural robustness and distributed mechanisms of cognitive behaviour

Jose Fernandez-Leon
CCNR, University of Sussex

There is a growing trend in the cognitive sciences to conceive of cognitive behaviour as being distributed across brain, body and environment. Work in Systems Biology also has focused on the distribution of control systems that sustain the system’s functions in spite of perturbations. However, the implications of distribution for our understanding of biological robustness, which so far has been related to individual-based mechanisms alone, has rarely been discussed in the literature. If the mechanisms underlying life and mind are indeed most commonly realized in a distributed manner, then we would expect this arrangement to be generally beneficial to an agent’s chances of survival. One way this benefit could be expressed is in terms of increased behavioural robustness, where robustness can be defined as the ability to sustain biological functions (e.g. a goal-directed behaviour) despite perturbations. Accordingly, it would be mutually beneficial for the cognitive sciences and systems biology to better understand the kind of consequences that a distributed realization of behaviour can have in terms of system’s dynamics in the presence of different types of perturbations. The aim of this seminar is to present some modelling work that begins to investigate this outstanding issue.

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