Extended Neural Metastability in an Embodied Model of Sensorimotor Coupling

This paper is an extension of some of the results worked during my PhD thesis. We investigate how the source of metastability in cognitive activity is not necessarily restricted to the action of neural circuits alone, but in some circumstances it can be generated from the sensorimotor coupling between an agent’s brain and its environment.

Aguilera M, Bedia MG and Barandiaran XE (2016) Extended Neural Metastability in an Embodied Model of Sensorimotor Coupling. Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience 10:76. doi: 10.3389/fnsys.2016.00076

Using a robotic simulated agent and information theoretical tools we are able to show how (1) the bidirectional coupling between agent and environment brings the system closer to a regime of criticality and triggers the emergence of additional metastable states which are not found in the brain in isolation but extended to the whole system of sensorimotor interaction, (2) the synaptic plasticity of the agent is fundamental to sustain open structures in the neural controller of the agent flexibly engaging and disengaging different behavioral patterns that sustain sensorimotor metastable states, and (3) these extended metastable states emerge when the agent generates an asymmetrical circular loop of causal interaction with its environment, in which the agent responds to variability of the environment at fast timescales while acting over the environment at slow timescales, suggesting the constitution of the agent as an autonomous entity actively modulating its sensorimotor coupling with the world.



About maguilera0

Miguel Aguilera is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the IAS Research Center for Life, Mind and Society at the University of the Basque Country. He has been a visiting researcher at the Cognitive Science Program at Indiana University and the Ikegami Lab in the Department of General Systems Studies at the University of Tokyo, and a postdoctoral fellow at the University of the University of Zaragoza and the University of the Balearic Islands. His research focuses on autonomy in biological and social systems from an interdisciplinary perspective, integrating insights from cognitive science, theoretical neuroscience, computational modeling, adaptive behaviour, and complex systems. It combines nonlinear and dynamical models, evolutionary algorithms, and mathematical analysis from dynamical systems, network and information theory, to generate and understand situated and embodied models of agency in the realms of artificial life and evolutionary robotics, computational neuroscience, collective intelligence practices and socio-technical systems.
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