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Contingency Perception and Agency Measure in Visuo-Motor Spiking Neural Networks

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4 Author(s)
Pitti, A. ; Dept. of Mechano-Inf., Univ. of Tokyo, Tokyo ; Mori, H. ; Kouzuma, S. ; Kuniyoshi, Y.

Agency is the sense that I am the cause or author of a movement. Babies develop early this feeling by perceiving the contingency between afferent (sensor) and efferent (motor) information. A comparator model is hypothesized to be associated with many brain regions to monitor and simulate the concordance between self-produced actions and their consequences. In this paper, we propose that the biological mechanism of spike timing-dependent plasticity, that synchronizes the neural dynamics almost everywhere in the central nervous system, constitutes the perfect algorithm to detect contingency in sensorimotor networks. The coherence or the dissonance in the sensorimotor information flow imparts then the agency level. In a head-neck-eyes robot, we replicate three developmental experiments illustrating how particular perceptual experiences can modulate the overall level of agency inside the system; i.e., (1) by adding a delay between proprioceptive and visual feedback information, (2) by facing a mirror, and (3) a person. We show that the system learns to discriminate animated objects (self-image and other persons) from other type of stimuli. This suggests a basic stage representing the self in relation to others from low-level sensorimotor processes. We discuss then the relevance of our findings with neurobiological evidences and development psychological observations for developmental robots.

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Autonomous Mental Development, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:1 ,  Issue: 1 )