Dynamic and adaptive body schema through the learning of sensory consequences of actions

Our project proposal addresses the co-development of a body schema and of agency (predicting the sensory consequences of one’s own actions) in an interdisciplinary way. The interdisciplinary components are: i) Theoretical/conceptual: Based on data from human studies and basic neuro-scientific findings, we developed a concrete design concept of integral mechanisms required for explaining body ownership and agency on a neural systems level of brain function. This conceptual model has guided experimental setups to further evaluate this model together with our partners. ii) Computational neuroscience methods: The conceptual model (representing parietal cortex, basal ganglia, cerebellum, and brainstem function) will be implemented at the neural level (firing-rate, synaptic plasticity), and data obtained from the model will be compared to data from our collaborators and co-applicants. iii) Robotics: The models will be tested in simulation, and importantly, on a humanoid robot (iCub) in a real-world scenario resembling studies with humans. Although at its core our project is not a robotics project, but rather focused on model building and understanding biological principles of brain function, in the long run, the obtained results may lead to autonomous robots that possess the human-like neurocognitive architecture of a minimal self as an integral aspect of their behavior.

Prof. Dr. Fred Hamker