July 11, 2012 at 1:13 am (Publications)
What is it like to use the Enactive Torch? The first systematic study of the experience of using this devise is going to come out soon in IEEE Transactions on Haptics. The title and abstract are as follows.
The Enactive Torch: A New Tool for the Science of Perception
Tom Froese, Marek McGann, William Bigge, Adam Spiers, and Anil K. Seth
The cognitive sciences are increasingly coming to terms with the embodied, embedded, extended, and experiential aspects of the mind. Exemplifying this shift, the enactive approach points to an essential role of goal-directed bodily activity in the generation of meaningful perceptual experience, i.e., sense-making. Here, building on recent insights into the transformative effects of practical tool-use, we make use of the enactive approach in order to provide a definition of an enactive interface in terms of augmented sense-making. We introduce such a custom-built interface, the Enactive Torch, and present a study of its experiential effects. The results demonstrate that the user experience is not adequately captured by any standardly assumed perceptual modality; rather, it is a new feeling that is mediated by the design of the device and shaped by the overall situation of the task. Taken together these findings show that there is much to be gained by synergies between engineering and the cognitive sciences in the creation of new experience-centered technology. We suggest that the guiding principle should be the design of interfaces that serve as a transparent medium for augmenting our natural skills of interaction with the world, instead of requiring conscious attention to the interface as an opaque object in the world.
July 5, 2012 at 4:08 am (Publications)
My attempt to promote the methods and insights of evolutionary robotics in the field of human neuroscience has had its first success. A model of social interaction has been published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. This paper completes the main project of my JSPS fellowship.
Imitation by social interaction? Analysis of a minimal agent-based model of the correspondence problem
Tom Froese, Charles Lenay, and Takashi Ikegami
Abstract: One of the major challenges faced by explanations of imitation is the “correspondence problem”: how is an agent able to match its bodily expression to the observed bodily expression of another agent, especially when there is no possibility of external self-observation? Current theories only consider the possibility of an innate or acquired matching mechanism belonging to an isolated individual. In this paper we evaluate an alternative that situates the explanation of imitation in the inter-individual dynamics of the interaction process itself. We implemented a minimal model of two interacting agents based on a recent psychological study of imitative behavior during minimalist perceptual crossing. The agents cannot sense the configuration of their own body, and do not have access to other’s body configuration, either. And yet surprisingly they are still capable of converging on matching bodily configurations. Analysis revealed that the agents solved this version of the correspondence problem in terms of collective properties of the interaction process. Contrary to the assumption that such properties merely serve as external input or scaffolding for individual mechanisms, it was found that the behavioral dynamics were distributed across the model as a whole.
June 28, 2012 at 7:05 am (Publications)
I’m happy to announce that my first publication in the field of archaeology and anthropology is now officially in press.
The paper is based on a talk I gave at Breaking Convention in Canterbury last year. It discusses possible links between the ritualization of non-ordinary states of consciousness and the cultural origins of the modern human mind.
Please click on the title to download the paper:
Altered States and the Prehistoric Ritualization of the Modern Human Mind.
June 13, 2012 at 3:25 am (Publications)
In response to some GOFAI nostalgia published in the last issue of the AISB Quarterly, I wrote a short position paper outlining an alternative view of the situation. My response will be published in issue #134.
The contribution is called: Cognitive science is not computer science
June 5, 2012 at 1:41 am (Publications)
The starting point for this paper was the realization that many of my colleagues who had been working in robotics and artificial life, had switched to doing experiments with human participants. Accordingly, I thought that it might be of general interest to explore some of the reasons for this shift.
Using Human–Computer Interfaces to Investigate ‘Mind-As-It-Could-Be’ from the First-Person Perspective
Tom Froese • Keisuke Suzuki • Yuta Ogai •Takashi Ikegami
There is a growing community of researchers who are interested in establishing a science of the experiential or ‘lived’ aspects of the human mind. This shift from cognitive science to consciousness science presents a profound challenge to synthetic approaches. To be sure, symbolic artificial intelligence constituted the original foundation of cognitive science; subsequent progress in robotics has helped to pioneer a new understanding of the mind as essentially embodied, situated, and dynamical, while artificial life has informed the concept of biological self-organization. However, with regard to the development of a science of the experienced mind, the relevance of these synthetic approaches still remains uncertain. We propose to address the challenge of first-person experience by designing new human–computer interfaces, which aim to artificially mediate a participant’s sensorimotor loop such that novel kinds of experience can emerge for the user. The advantage of this synthetic approach is that computer interface technology enables us to systematically vary the ways in which participants experience the world and thereby allows us to systematically investigate ‘mind-as-it-could-be’ from the first-person perspective. We illustrate the basic principles of this method by drawing on examples from our research in sensory substitution, virtual reality, and interactive installation.
March 26, 2012 at 6:26 am (Publications)
The first results of my collaboration with Thomas Fuchs that started a couple of years have finally been published by Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences:
The extended body: a case study in the neurophenomenology of social interaction
Tom Froese & Thomas Fuchs
There is a growing realization in cognitive science that a theory of embodied intersubjectivity is needed to better account for social cognition. We highlight some challenges that must be addressed by attempts to interpret ‘simulation theory’ in terms of embodiment, and argue for an alternative approach that integrates phenomenology and dynamical systems theory in a mutually informing manner. Instead of ‘simulation’ we put forward the concept of the ‘extended body’, an enactive and phenomenological notion that emphasizes the socially mediated nature of embodiment. To illustrate the explanatory potential of this approach, we replicate an agent-based model of embodied social interaction. An analysis of the model demonstrates that the extended body can be explained in terms of mutual dynamical entanglement: inter-bodily resonance between individuals can give rise to self-sustaining interaction patterns that go beyond the behavioral capacities of isolated individuals by modulating their intra-bodily conditions of behavior generation.
The paper can be downloaded by clicking here.
February 26, 2012 at 8:23 am (General, Publications)
A couple of years ago John Stewart and I published an extended evaluation and critique of the original concept of autopoiesis from the perspective of enactive cognitive science:
Froese, T. & Stewart, J. (2010). Life after Ashby: Ultrastability and the autopoietic foundations of biological individuality. Cybernetics & Human Knowing, 17(4): 7-50
I recently noticed that Humberto Maturana kindly wrote an extended response to our article in the same journal:
Maturana, H. (2011). Ultrastability … Autopoiesis? Reflective Response to Tom Froese and John Stewart. Cybernetics & Human Knowing, 18(1-2): 143-152
Unfortunately, I don’t have access to the original PDF of the response, but the link above will take you to the publisher’s website.
February 16, 2012 at 1:55 am (Publications)
I was invited to review the recently published edited book Enaction: Toward a New Paradigm of Cognitive Science. The resulting paper is now available in the journal Adaptive Behavior. The title and abstract are as follows:
From adaptive behavior to human cognition: a review of Enaction
Ikegami Laboratory, University of Tokyo, Japan
Critics of the paradigm of enaction have long argued that enactive principles will be unable to account for the traditional domain of orthodox cognitive science, namely “higher-level” cognition and specifically human cognition. Moreover, even many of the paradigm’s “lower-level” insights into embodiment and situatedness appear to be amenable to a functionalist reinterpretation. In this review, I show on the basis of the recently published collection of papers, Enaction, that the paradigm of enaction has (a) a unique foundation in the notion of sense-making that places fundamental limits on the scope of functionalist appropriation; (b) a unique perspective on higher-level cognition that sets important new research directions without the need for the concept of mental representation; (c) a new concept of specifically human cognition in terms of second-order sense-making; and (d) a rich variety of approaches to explain the evolutionary, historical, and developmental origins of this sophisticated human ability. I also indicate how studies of the role of embodiment for abstract human cognition can strengthen their position by reconceiving their notion of embodiment in enactive terms.
You can download the paper here: PDF
December 2, 2011 at 2:13 am (Presentations, Publications)
Some of our recent work with the Enactive Torch will be presented by Marek McGann at The International Conference of the European SKILLS Project, which will be held in Montpellier, France, on December 15-16, 2011. The title and abstract are as follows:
The Use of a Distal-to-Tactile Sensory Substitution Interface Does Not Lead to Extension of Body Image
Marek McGann, Tom Froese, William Bigge, Adam Spiers and Anil K. Seth
A range of studies in the past decade and a half indicate significant impacts of tool use on body image. In cases of intentional action, contractions of near space or experienced extensions of limbs have been shown when using tools such as rakes. It remains unclear whether the changes in body image are effected by the tool enabling perception at a distance or action/manipulation of the environment at a distance. We studied this issue using a new research tool, the Enactive Torch, a sensory substitution device specifically designed for research into perception and bodily action. The Enactive Torch allows perception at a distance without the capacity for distal action. We report a first experiment indicating that its use on a navigation task has no effect on body image.
The conference paper can be downloaded here.
December 1, 2011 at 6:49 am (Presentations, Publications)
I will be presenting a paper at The 9th International Conference on the Evolution of Language (EvoLang IX), which will be held in Kyoto, Japan, from March 13 to 16, 2012. The title and abstract are as follows:
NON-HUMAN PRIMATES CANNOT DECONTEXTUALIZE AND OBJECTIFY THE ACTIONS OF THEIR CONSPECIFICS
Tom Froese, Takashi Ikegami, and Mike Beaton
We argue that all primates primarily perceive the actions of conspecifics as meaningful expressions of agency. Social understanding is a perceptual capacity that does not require human reason or imagination. Conversely, only humans have an additional, sophisticated ability to decontextualize and objectify actions into abstract movements. We thereby turn the traditional consensus on its head: what distinguishes humans from other primates is not the ability to perceive other agents. Humans are different because they can detach from the goal-oriented and meaning-laden presence of their natural and social world in order to bring abstract physical details into focus. This objectifying stance is necessary for genuine innovation and fine-grained imitation, especially of opaque instrumental and symbolic gestures, and therefore has implications for the origins of tool use and language.
You can download the full paper here.