We hear from the ECLT network

"How does cognition emerge from sensory-motor processes?"

Gregor Schöner

ECLT General Assembly 

Chair Theory of Cognitive Systems and Director of the Institute for Neural Computation, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany 

10 July 2020, 3 p.m.

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Abstract

Cognition emerged in evolution from sensorimotor behaviors that became increasingly invariant and abstract. The structure of the brain reflects that evolutionary continuity. How can we understand the flexibility of cognitive processing in light of this grounding of cognition in the sensorimotor domain? Dynamic Field Theory is a theoretical framework that builds on strongly interactive neural networks, or neural dynamics to account for the autonomous generation of sequences of mental or motor acts. I will outline the key assumptions of DFT and show how problems in cognition can be reframed within this theoretical perspective. I will illustrate ideas through a series  of examples leading up to the perceptual grounding of relational concepts.

Bio sketch

After obtaining a doctoral degree in theoretical physics (with a dissertation on instabilities in stochastic dynamical systems) from the University of Stuttgart in Germany, Gregor Schöner moved to the Center for Complex Systems at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL were he began work on human motor control and human perception. During first stint at the Institut für Neuroinformatik (INI) of the Ruhr-University Bochum as group leader in robotics, Gregor Schöner applied his theoretical work to robots while also beginning to collaborate with neuroscientists, a collaboration he extended during his subsequent seven years as Directeur de Recherche (II) at the Centre de Recherche en Neurosciences Cognitives of the CNRS in Marseille, France. Returning to the INI in 2001, he took responsibility for the chair in Theory of Cognitive Systems and has been the director of the INI since 2003. He has joint appointments in the Faculties of Physics and Electrical Engineering and is a member of the International Graduate School in Neuroscience and the Research Department Neuroscience. He has been responsible for research projects supported by a variety of funding agencies including the German BMBF and DFT, the US NSF and NIMH, the French ANR, and the European Marie Curie and FP7 programs. He coordinated the NeuralDynamics EU-FP7 project and was co-PI for two of the three EUCognition network projects.