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Keijzer Fred | Fellow Visitor
2014-04-15 - 2014-07-04 | Research area: Cognition and Sociality
Nervous Systems and Embodiment
How do nervous systems line up with embodiment? While ‘embodiment‘ has become a key notion for cognitive science thanks to Embodied Cognition (EC), the notion remains to a large extent unspecified and can as easily refer to robots as to animals or other organisms. In the present research, I will investigate whether and how the animal sensorimotor organization can provide handholds for making the notion of embodiment more specific for the most salient and complex examples of cognitive systems in existence today: animals, including humans. The approach chosen is to focus on the earliest coevolution of (proto) nervous systems and what became the animal sensorimotor organization. The relevant evolutionary events must have taken place before the Cambrian as modern animal forms already were established at the beginning of this period. The present research aims to formulate a plausible set of organizational steps that specify how the modern animals sensorimotor system may have evolved from basic precursor systems such as contractile epithelia. Current results from this research strongly suggest that the animal sensorimotor system does have specific features not present in other cases of ‘sensorimotor systems‘ such as those of robots and, presumably, organisms other than animals. There are two important implications of this work: (a) The animal sensorimotor organization should be differentiated from superficially similar forms of such an organization. (b) Nervous systems are not control structures that are comparable to artificial control structures, but they are intrinsically tied to the animal sensorimotor organization and constitutive for embodiment.