Tutorial on Embodiment
4.2. Information Self-structuring through Sensory-motor Coordination*
The previous section has demonstrated how a particular sensor morphology affects the information structure of the raw data that reaches the sensor and that enters subsequent processing afterwards. However, the sensory stimulation is not passively received, but rather actively generated. The point we want to make was beautifully expressed by John Dewey already in 1896 (Dewey, 1896):
"We begin not with a sensory stimulus, but with a sensory-motor coordination [...] In a certain sense it is the movement which is primary, and the sensation which is secondary, the movement of the body, head, and eye muscles determining the quality of what is experienced. In other words, the real beginning is with the act of seeing; it is looking, and not a sensation of light."
Only much later was Dewey's visionary observation picked up by research in active perception (e.g. Bajcsy, 1988; Churchland et al., 1994; Gibson, 1979; Noe, 2004). We will present some case studies from visual perception that illustrate this point and we will also show how the information structure that is generated can be measured.
* This section has been adapted from Hoffmann and Pfeifer (2011).
Bajcsy, R. (1988), 'Active perception', Proceedings of the IEEE 76(8), 966--1005.
Churchland, P. S.; Ramachandran, V. & Sejnowski, T.Koch, C. & Davis, J., ed., (1994), Large-scale neuronal theories of the brain, MIT Press, chapter A critique of pure vision.
Dewey, J. (1896), 'The reflex arc concept in psychology', Psychological Review 3, 357-370.
Gibson, J. (1979), The ecological approach to visual perception, Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Hoffmann, M. & Pfeifer, R. (2011), The implications of embodiment for behavior and cognition: animal and robotic case studies, in W. Tschacher & C. Bergomi, ed., 'The Implications of Embodiment: Cognition and Communication', Exeter: Imprint Academic, pp. 31-58.
Noe, A. (2004), Action in perception, MIT Press.