Many previous treatments of voluntary behavior have viewed intentions as causes of behavior. This has resulted in several dilemmas, including a dilemma concerning the origin of intentions. The present article circumvents traditional dilemmas by treating intentions as constraints that restrict degrees of freedom for behavior. Constraints self-organize as temporary dynamic structures that span the mind-body divide. This treatment of intentions and voluntary behavior yields a theory of intentionality that is consistent with existing findings and supported by current research.
To describe phenomena that occur at different time scales, computational models of the brain must incorporate different levels of abstraction. At time scales of approximately 1/3 of a second, orienting movements of the body play a crucial role in cognition and form a useful computational level embodiment level,” the constraints of the physical system determine the nature of cognitive operations. The key synergy is that at time scales of about 1/3 of a second, the natural sequentiality of body movements can (...) be matched to the natural computational economies of sequential decision systems through a system of implicit reference called deictic in which pointing movements are used to bind objects in the world to cognitive programs. This target article focuses on how deictic bindings make it possible to perform natural tasks. Deictic computation provides a mechanism for representing the essential features that link external sensory data with internal cognitive programs and motor actions. One of the central features of cognition, working memory, can be related to moment-by-moment dispositions of body features such as eye movements and hand movements. (shrink)
It is well known that common objects in the environment can evoke possibilities of action, but what about their bi-dimensional representation? Do pictures or paintings that represent action-related objects evoke the same possibilities of actions of the objects that they represent? In contemporary cognitive science, there are two contrasting views on this issue. On the one hand, the ecological-dispositional approach to perception supports the idea that viewing depicted objects as endowed with the potential for action is nothing but an illusion. (...) On the other hand, recent findings show that our motor system is activated by the perception of both real and depicted action-related objects, and this activation plays a functional role in planning motor acts. A broad analysis reveals that the activation of the motor system during perceptual tasks plays a crucial rule in processing the practical meaning of the concrete objects and of the abstract representations of them. This evidence has consequences to our understanding of the way we experience pictures and paintings. (shrink)
Motor affordances are important for object knowledge. Semantic tasks on visual objects often show interactions with motor actions. Prior neuro-imaging studies suggested that motor affordances also play a role in visual working memory for objects. When participants remembered manipulable objects greater premotor cortex activation was observed than when they remembered non-manipulable objects. In the present study participants held object pictures in working memory while performing concurrent tasks such as articulation of nonsense syllables and performing hand (...) movements. Although concurrent tasks did interfere with working memory performance, in none of the experiments did we find any evidence that concurrent motortasks affected memory differently for manipulable and non-manipulable objects. I conclude that motor affordances are not used for visual working memory. (shrink)
Recent accounts of the speed/accuracy relation for motortasks have focused on the concept of motor output variability. We outline the advantages of this approach and the limitation of Plamondon's model in explaining movement error. We also examine and present complimentary data for rapid timing tasks. While these tasks do not meet the presented assumptions, the data still fit the model predictions.
Visual information follows at least two branches in the human nervous system, following a common input stage: a cognitive ''what'' branch governs perception and experience, while a sensorimotor ''how'' branch handles visually guided behavior though its outputs are unconscious. The sensorimotor system is probed with an isomorphic task, requiring a 1:1 relationship between target position and motor response. The cognitive system, in contrast, is probed with a forced qualitative decision, expressed verbally, about the location of a target. Normally, the (...) cognitive system is influenced by context-induced illusions of visual direction, while the sensorimotor system is not. Here, we inquire whether the process of making a spatially based decision is critical in forcing subjects to use the information in the cognitive system for spatial tasks. Subjects hear a tone that determines whether they jab an ''X'' or an ''O'' with the forefinger. Despite making a decision about which target to contact, the jab is not influenced by the position of a surrounding frame, indicating that choice can be handled within the context-insensitive sensorimotor system. (shrink)
The current investigation was conducted to elucidate whether errors of commission in the Sustained Attention to Response Task are indicators of perceptual or motor decoupling. Twenty-eight participants completed SARTs with motor and perceptual aspects of the task manipulated. The participants completed four different SART blocks whereby stimuli location uncertainty and stimuli acquisition were manipulated. In previous studies of more traditional sustained attention tasks stimuli location uncertainty reduces sustained attention performance. In the case of the SART the (...) class='Hi'>motor manipulation , but not the perceptual manipulation significantly reduced commission errors. The results suggest that the majority of SART commission errors are likely to be indicators of motor decoupling not necessarily perceptual decoupling. (shrink)
Is thinking necessarily linguistic? Do we think with words, to use Bermudez’s (2003) phrase? Or does thinking occur in some other, yet to be determined, representational format? Or again do we think in various formats, switching from one to the other as tasks demand? In virtue perhaps of the ambiguous na- ture of ﬁrst-person introspective data on the matter, philosophers have tradition- ally disagreed on this question, some thinking that thought had to be pictorial, other insisting that it could (...) not be but linguistic. When any problem divides a community of otherwise intelligent rational thinkers, one suspects some deep conceptual confusion is at play. Indeed, we believe that the conceptual cate- gories used to frame these and related questions are so hopelessly muddled that one could honestly answer “both simultaneously”, or “neither”, depending one what is meant by the alternatives. But let’s get our priorities straight. This paper ﬁrst and foremost aims at defending what we believe to be a step in that direc- tion of the proper view of thinking, a view we call the spatial-motor view. In order to do so, however, we have found it essential to start by addressing the conceptual confusion just alluded to. Accordingly, the paper proceeds in two steps. First a conceptual step, in which we reconsider some of the traditional categories brought into play when thinking about thinking. Then an empirical step, in which we offer empirical evidence for one of the views conceptually isolated during the ﬁrst part of the work. Future version of this collaborative work will include a speculative step in which we spin out an evolutionary and developmental scenario whose function it is justify the spatial-motor view by showing how it ﬁts into current evolutionary and developmental theories. (shrink)
In this commentary, I raise several points. First, I argue that non-search tasks show that the A-not-B task is about object representation, even if perseveration can occur without objects. Second, I provide an alternative interpretation for the finding that changing body posture reduces A-not-B errors. Third, I provide an alternative interpretation for the finding of convergence in reaching behavior in two-target tasks. Fourth, I suggest attention deficits can explain the A-not-B error on their own with no necessity for (...)motor memories. (shrink)
Psychological studies (Proffitt, 2006) have demonstrated that what one sees is influenced by one's goals, physiological state, and emotions. These studies demonstrate that there is a positive correlation between the physical demands (energetic cost) and perceived valence (emotional cost) of a task and the appearance of slant and egocentric distance in the environment. The studies are compelling. However, one can question whether their results are due to changes in the way participants perceived the orientation and extent of their environment or (...) are instead artifacts of the way they judged the difficulty of expected tasks in particular contexts. We asked participants to sketch the rough spatial layout of several paintings as accurately as possible. In this type of task participants continuously compare what they have drawn against what they perceive. Therefore, participants performance can be interpreted as a means to directly measure of the spatial metric of perception. We chose two paintings by Andrew Wyeth as target images: “Christina's World” and “Winter, 1946.” Participants were asked to draw the spatial arrangement of the key features of the scene depicted in the target painting twice: prior to being presented with biographical information about the subject of the painting condition; and then again after being told the biographical information that altered the perceived task demands or emotional valence of the events they depicted. We predicted that participants' drawings would differ in the two conditions indicating that: change in the energetic or emotional costs of the depicted action would cause them to perceive the depicted orientation of hills as steeper and distance between key landmarks as longer. Results from the energetic cost condition support this prediction. We will discuss our results and the suggestion that these types of effects reflect a role for motor simulation in perception (Witt, 2005). (shrink)
The acquisition of complex motor, cognitive, and social skills, like playing a musical instrument or mastering sports or a language, is generally associated with implicit skill learning . Although it is a general view that SL is most effective in childhood, and such skills are best acquired if learning starts early, this idea has rarely been tested by systematic empirical studies on the developmental pathways of SL from childhood to old age. In this paper, we challenge the view that (...) childhood and early school years are the prime time for skill learning by tracking age-related changes in performance in three different paradigms of SL. We collected data from participants between 7 and 87 years for a Serial Reaction Time Task testing the learning of motor sequences, an Artificial Grammar Learning task testing the extraction of regularities from auditory sequences, and Probabilistic Category Learning in the Weather Prediction task , a non-sequential categorization task. Results on all three tasks show that adolescence and adulthood are the most efficient periods for skill learning, since instead of becoming less and less effective with age, SL improves from childhood into adulthood and then later declines with aging. (shrink)
People frequently gesture when problem-solving, particularly on tasks that require spatial transformation. Gesture often facilitates task performance by interacting with internal mental representations, but how this process works is not well understood. We investigated this question by exploring the case of mental abacus, a technique in which users not only imagine moving beads on an abacus to compute sums, but also produce movements in gestures that accompany the calculations. Because the content of MA is transparent and readily manipulated, the (...) task offers a unique window onto how gestures interface with mental representations. We find that the size and number of MA gestures reflect the length and difficulty of math problems. Also, by selectively interfering with aspects of gesture, we find that participants perform significantly worse on MA under motor interference, but that perceptual feedback is not critical for success on the task. We conclude that premotor processes involved in the planning of gestures are critical to mental representation in MA. (shrink)
Choking under pressure describes the phenomenon of people performing well below their expected standard under circumstances where optimal performance is crucial. One of the prevailing explanations for choking is that pressure increases the conscious attention to the underlying processes of the performer's task execution, thereby disrupting what would normally be a relatively automatic process. However, research on choking has focused mainly on the influence of pressure on motor performance, typically overlooking how it might alter the way that vision is (...) controlled when performing these motor actions. In this article we ask whether the visual component of expert motor-skill execution is susceptible to choking much like the motor component is thought to be. To do so, we draw heavily on empirical findings from studies of sporting expertise, in particular focussing on the role of gaze in three types of visually-guided actions: interceptive actions, aiming tasks, and anticipatory skill. For each of these skills we evaluate the nature of the expert advantage, discuss the role of consciousness in their control, examine the potential impact of pressure on task performance, and consider interventions designed to reduce the likelihood of choking when performing these tasks. (shrink)
The model identifies a spatial coordinate frame within which the sensorimotor apparatus produces movement. Its spatial nature simplifies its coupling with spatial reference frames used concurrently by vision and proprioception. While the positional reference frame addresses the performance of spatial tasks, it seems to have little to say about movements involving energy expenditure as the principle component of the task.
Sequential action makes up the bulk of human daily activity, and yet much remains unknown about how people learn such actions. In one motor learning paradigm, the serial reaction time task, people are taught a consistent sequence of button presses by cueing them with the next target response. However, the SRT task only records keypress response times to a cued target, and thus it cannot reveal the full time-course of motion, including predictive movements. This paper describes a mouse movement (...) trajectory SRT task in which the cursor must be moved to a cued location. We replicated keypress SRT results, but also found that predictive movement—before the next cue appears—increased during the experiment. Moreover, trajectory analyses revealed that people developed a centering strategy under uncertainty. In a second experiment, we made prediction explicit, no longer cueing targets. Thus, participants had to explore the response alternatives and learn via reinforcement, receiving rewards and penalties for correct and incorrect actions, respectively. Participants were not told whether the sequence of stimuli was deterministic, nor if it would repeat, nor how long it was. Given the difficulty of the task, it is unsurprising that some learners performed poorly. However, many learners performed remarkably well, and some acquired the full 10-item sequence within 10 repetitions. Comparing the high- and low-performers’ detailed results in this reinforcement learning task with the first experiment's cued trajectory SRT task, we found similarities between the two tasks, suggesting that the effects in Experiment 1 are due to predictive, rather than reactive processes. Finally, we found that two standard model-free reinforcement learning models fit the high-performing participants, while the four low-performing participants provide better fit with a simple negative recency bias model. (shrink)
Por muchos años los economistas han afirmado que los individuos buscan maximizar la riqueza para maximizar su utilidad, porque "si somos más ricos, somos más felices". Es necesario reconocer que la vida buena, la felicidad, es la combinación de bienes materiales y de bienes relacionales. "Relaciones": es una gran preocupación, porque hoy el "bien escaso", son las relaciones genuinas, la confianza, la fraternidad. El "otro" como persona es, en sí mismo, un valor absoluto no sujeto a transacciones. La sociedad utilitarista (...) cambia los bienes relacionales por bienes de consumo que desprecian la relación con la naturaleza, con la comunidad, con los derechos humanos, con los más vulnerables. El notable economista Amartya Sen es quien despliega la multidimensionalidad del desarrollo humano pero no encara la categoría del don-reciprocidad aunque una lectura profunda podría reconocer que esta categoría subyace en su visión humanista tal vez sin habérselo propuesto nunca. Una de las tareas esenciales dentro del amplio debate sobre el desarrollo humano integral es la profundización de la categoría de la relación, del paradigma relacional. El don, la reciprocidad en economía van ocupando un espacio. For years now, economists have stated that individuals search to maximize richness in order to maximize its utility, because "richer means happier". There is a need to recognize that good life, happiness, is a combination of both materials and relationships. "Relationships": this is matter of preoccupation, because today "the scarce good", are genuine relationships, trust, confidence, fraternity. The "other" as a person is, in itself, an absolute value not subject to transactions. A utilitarian society changes relationships for useful goods that despise the interaction with nature, with the community, with human rights, with the most vulnerable. The renowned economist Amartya Sen displays the multidimensional vision of human development but does not face the category of gift-reciprocity even though a deeper view could recognize that this category underlies in his humanist vision, perhaps without even having thought of this. One of the main tasks inside the wide debate on complete human development is to deepen the category of relationships, the relational paradigm. The gift, the reciprocity in economy are already winning their space. (shrink)
Most animals have significant behavioral expertise built in without having to explicitly learn it all from scratch. This expertise is a product of evolution of the organism; it can be viewed as a very long term form of learning which provides a structured system within which individuals might learn more specialized skills or abilities. This paper suggests one possible mechanism for analagous robot evolution by describing a carefully designed series of networks, each one being a strict augmentation of the previous (...) one, which control a six legged walking machine capable of walking over rough terrain and following a person passively sensed in the infrared spectrum. As the completely decentralized networks are augmented. the robot’s performance and behavior repetoire demonstrably improve. The rationale for such demonstrations is that they may provide a hint as to the requirements for automatically building massive networks to carry out complex sensory-motortasks. The experiments with an actual robot ensure that an essence of reality is maintained and that no critical disabling problems have been ignored. (shrink)
Eco-cognitive computationalism considers computation in context, following some of the main tenets advanced by the recent cognitive science views on embodied, situated, and distributed cognition. It is in the framework of this eco-cognitive perspective that we can usefully analyze the recent attention in computer science devoted to the importance of the simplification of cognitive and motortasks caused in organic entities by the morphological features: ignorant bodies can be domesticated to become useful “mimetic bodies”, that is able to (...) render an intertwined computation simpler, resorting to that “simplexity” of animal embodied cognition, which represents one of the main quality of organic agents. Through eco-cognitive computationalism we can clearly acknowledge that the concept of computation changes, depending on historical and contextual causes, and we can build an epistemological view that illustrates the “emergence” of new kinds of computations, such as the one regarding morphological computation. This new perspective shows how the computational domestication of ignorant entities can originate new unconventional cognitive embodiments. In the last part of the article I will introduce the concept of overcomputationalism, showing that my proposed framework helps us see the related concepts of pancognitivism, paniformationalism, and pancomputationalism in a more naturalized and prudent perspective, avoiding the excess of old-fashioned ontological or metaphysical overstatements. (shrink)
Koriat & Goldsmith restrict their definition of memory to “being about some past event,” which causes them to ignore the most common use of memory: everyday visual-motortasks. New techniques make it possible to study memory in the context of these natural tasks with which memory is so tightly coupled. Memory can be more fully understood in the context of these actions.
The conservative strategy proposed by the authors suggests a solution of the degrees-of-freedom problem of the controller. However, several simple motor control tasks cannot be explained by this strategy. A nonconservative strategy, in which more parameters of the control signal vary, can account for these simple motortasks. However, the simplicity that distinguishes the proposed model from many others is lost.
Are there distinct roles for intention and motor representation in explaining the purposiveness of action? Standard accounts of action assign a role to intention but are silent on motor representation. The temptation is to suppose that nothing need be said here because motor representation is either only an enabling condition for purposive action or else merely a variety of intention. This paper provides reasons for resisting that temptation. Some motor representations, like intentions, coordinate actions in virtue (...) of representing outcomes; but, unlike intentions, motor representations cannot feature as premises or conclusions in practical reasoning. This implies that motor representation has a distinctive role in explaining the purposiveness of action. It also gives rise to a problem: were the roles of intention and motor representation entirely independent, this would impair effective action. It is therefore necessary to explain how intentions interlock with motor representations. The solution, we argue, is to recognise that the contents of intentions can be partially determined by the contents of motor representations. Understanding this content-determining relation enables better understanding how intentions relate to actions. (shrink)
This paper concerns how motor actions are neurally represented and coded. Action planning and motor preparation can be studied using a specific type of representational activity, motor imagery. A close functional equivalence between motor imagery and motor preparation is suggested by the positive effects of imagining movements on motor learning, the similarity between the neural structures involved, and the similar physiological correlates observed in both imaging and preparing. The content of motor representations can (...) be inferred from motor images at a macroscopic level, based on global aspects of the action and the motor rules and constraints which predict the spatial path and kinematics of movements. A more microscopic neural account calls for a representation of object-oriented action. Object attributes are processed in different neural pathways depending on the kind of task the subject is performing. During object-oriented action, a pragmatic representation is activated in which object affordances are transformed into specific motor schemas. Animal as well as human clinical data implicate the posterior parietal and premotor cortical areas in schema instantiation. A mechanism is proposed that is able to encode the desired goal of the action and is applicable to different levels of representational organization. (shrink)
When reflecting on the nature of skilled action, it is easy to fall into familiar dichotomies such that one construes the flexibility and intelligence of skill at the level of intentional states while characterizing the automatic motor processes that constitute motor skill execution as learned but fixed, invariant, bottom-up, brute-causal responses. In this essay, I will argue that this picture of skilled, automatic, motor processes is overly simplistic. Specifically, I will argue that an adequate account of the (...) learned motor routines that constitute embodied skills cannot be given in a purely bottom-up, brute-causal fashion. Rather, motor control is intelligent all the way down. To establish this, I will first review two recent accounts of skill, Stanley and Krakauer and Papineau, which characterize the automatic motor control responsible for the fine-grained movements constitutive of motor skill as brute, low-level phenomena. I will then isolate five key features that should apply to skilled motor control, if these accounts are correct. Together, the accounts posit that motor control is: ballistic, invariant, independent of general action trajectories, Insensitive to semantic content, and independent of personal-level intentions. In the final section of this paper, I will appeal to optimal control theory for empirical evidence to challenge the commitment to skilled action as qualified by the above features. (shrink)
I argue that the intellectualist account of knowledge-how, according to which agents have the knowledge-how to \ in virtue of standing in an appropriate relation to a proposition, is only half right. On the composition view defended here, knowledge-how at least typically requires both propositional knowledge and motor representations. Motor representations are not mere dispositions to behavior because they have representational content, and they play a central role in realizing the intelligence in knowledge-how. But since motor representations (...) are not propositional, propositional knowledge is not sufficient for knowledge-how. (shrink)
What triggers the execution of actions? What happens in that moment when an action is triggered? What mental state is there at the moment of action-execution that was not there a second before? My aim is to highlight the importance of a thus far largely ignored kind of mental state in the discussion of these old and much-debated questions: motor imagery. While there have been a fair amount of research in psychology and neuroscience on motor imagery in the (...) last 30 years or so, it is only recently that we start to understand the important role motor imagery plays in action initiation. And if, as these findings suggest, motor imagery plays an important role in action initiation, we can make progress not only in understanding action initiation in general but also in understanding what goes wrong in akratic actions and in relapse actions. Finally, this new picture of action-initiation also has far-reaching consequences for the relation between motivation and causation in naturalistic action-explanations. (shrink)
The most important question concerning picture perception is: what perceptual state are we in when we see an object in a picture? In order to answer this question, philosophers have used the results of the two visual systems model, according to which our visual system can be divided into two streams, a ventral stream for object recognition, allowing one to perceive from an allocentric frame of reference, and a dorsal stream for visually guided motor interaction, thus allowing one to (...) perceive from an egocentric frame of reference. Following this model, philosophers denied that we can be in a dorsal perceptual state when perceiving a depicted object. This is because a depicted object is not physically graspable or manipulable and, in turn, it cannot be egocentrically localized, as a normal object, by the dorsal stream. Thus, the impossibility of manipulating depicted objects and of localizing them from an egocentric frame of reference has led some people to be sceptical about the possibility of a representation of action properties in the perception of objects in pictures, which pertains to the dorsal visual system. The aim of the present paper is to show that it is possible for the depicted object to be represented by dorsal perception. That means that we can ascribe action properties to depicted objects as well, even if depicted objects cannot be egocentrically localized—at least, not as much as normal objects can. (shrink)
Common sense suggests that visual consciousness is essential to skilled motor action, but Andy Clark—inspired by Milner and Goodale's dual visual systems theory—has appealed to a wide range of experimental dissociations to argue that such an assumption is false. Critics of Clark's argument contend that the content driving motor action is actually within subjects' experience, just not easily discovered. In this article, I argue that even if such content exists, it cannot be guiding motor action, since a (...) review of current visual neuroscience indicates that the visual brain areas producing conscious representations are distinct from those driving motor action. (shrink)
Translators’ Abstract: This is a translation of Hans-Georg Gadamer’s recently discovered 1952 Berlin speech. The speech includes several themes that reappear in Truth and Method, as well as in Gadamer’s later writings such as Reason in the Age of Science. For example, Gadamer criticizes positivism, modern philosophy’s orientation toward positivism, and Enlightenment narratives of progress, while presenting his view of philosophy’s tasks in an age of crisis. In addition, he discusses structural power, instrumental reason, the objectification of nature and (...) human beings, the reduction of both to mere means, and the colonization of scientific-technological ways of knowing and being—all of which continue to impact our social and political lives together and threaten the very existence of every living being. This speech is essential reading for Gadamer scholars interested in the social, political, and ethical dimensions of his thought and for those interested in bringing Gadamer into conversation with critical theory. (shrink)
Both short and long-term video-game play may result in superior performance on visual and attentional tasks. To further these findings, we compared the performance of experienced male video-game players (VGPs) and non-VGPs on a Simon-task. Experienced-VGPs began playing before the age of 10, had a minimum of 8 years of experience and a minimum play time of over 20 h per week over the past 6 months. Our results reveal a significantly reduced Simon-effect in experienced-VGPs relative to non-VGPs. However, (...) this was true only for the right-responses, which typically show a greater Simon-effect than left-responses. In addition, experienced-VGPs demonstrated significantly quicker reaction times and more balanced left-versus-right-hand performance than non-VGPs. Our results suggest that experienced-VGPs can resolve response-selection conflicts more rapidly for right-responses than non-VGPs, and this may in part be underpinned by improved bimanual motor control. (shrink)
A hypothesis about sensorimotor integration is described and applied to movement control and kinesthesia. The central idea is that the nervous system organizes positional frames of reference for the sensorimotor apparatus and produces active movements by shifting the frames in terms of spatial coordinates. Kinematic and electromyographic patterns are not programmed, but emerge from the dynamic interaction among the system s components, including external forces within the designated frame of reference. Motoneuronal threshold properties and proprioceptive inputs to motoneurons may be (...) cardinal components of the physiological mechanism that produces positional frames of reference. The hypothesis that intentional movements are produced by shifting the frame of reference is extended to multi-muscle and multi-degrees-of-freedom systems with a solution of the redundancy problem that allows the control of a joint alone or in combination with other joints to produce any desired limb configuration and movement trajectory. The model also implies that for each motor behavior, the nervous system uses a strategy that minimizes the number of changeable control variables and keeps the parameters of these changes invariant. Examples are provided of simulated kinematic and electromyographic signals from single- and multi-joint arm movements produced by suggested patterns of control variables. Empirical support is provided and additional tests of the model are suggested. The model is contrasted with others based on the ideas of programming of motoneuronal activity, muscle forces, stiffness, or movement kinematics. (shrink)
I argue that Merleau-Ponty’s use of the case of Schneider in his arguments for the existence of non-conconceptual and non-representational motor intentionality contains a problematic methodological ambiguity. Motor intentionality is both to be revealed by its perspicuous preservation and by its contrastive impairment in one and the same case. To resolve the resulting contradiction I suggest we emphasize the second of Merleau-Ponty’s two lines of argument. I argue that this interpretation is the one in best accordance both with (...) Merleau-Ponty’s general methodology and with the empirical case of Schneider as it was described by Gelb and Goldstein. (shrink)