The Life & Mind Seminar Network

Defining sensorimotor contingencies

Posted in Seminars by Ezequiel on June 20, 2013

New open access paper.

Buhrmann T, Di Paolo EA and Barandiaran X (2013) A dynamical systems account of sensorimotor contingencies. Front. Psychol. 4:285. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00285.


Abstract: According to the sensorimotor approach, perception is a form of embodied know-how, constituted by lawful regularities in the sensorimotor flow or in sensorimotor contingencies (SMCs) in an active and situated agent. Despite the attention that this approach has attracted, there have been few attempts to define its core concepts formally. In this paper, we examine the idea of SMCs and argue that its use involves notions that need to be distinguished. We introduce four distinct kinds of SMCs, which we define operationally. These are the notions of sensorimotor environment (open-loop motor-induced sensory variations), sensorimotor habitat (closed-loop sensorimotor trajectories), sensorimotor coordination (reliable sensorimotor patterns playing a functional role), and sensorimotor strategy (normative organization of sensorimotor coordinations). We make use of a minimal dynamical model of visually guided categorization to test the explanatory value of the different kinds of SMCs. Finally, we discuss the impact of our definitions on the conceptual development and empirical as well as model-based testing of the claims of the sensorimotor approach.





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  1. Tom Froese said, on June 22, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    I think we need more of this dynamical systems agent-based modeling work to better inform current debates in cognitive science!

    I also just presented a paper where I use this approach to counter the coupling-constitution fallacy in the extended mind debate, arguing instead for the idea of a dynamically extended mind. The main point will be trivial for the evolutionary robotics community, but it continually surprises me how few scientists realize it.

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