Event Detail

Fri Nov 13, 2009
Tolman 5101, 11 AM–1 PM
Institute of Cognitive and Brain Sciences
Rrandy O'Reilly (University of Colorado)
From Spikes to Object Recognition and Beyond: Building an Embodied Brain

One of the great unsolved questions in our field is how the human brain, and simulations thereof, can achieve the kind of common-sense understanding that is widely believed to be essential for robust intelligence. Many have argued that embodiment is important for developing common-sense understanding, but exactly how this occurs at a mechanistic level remains unclear. In the process of building an embodied cognitive agent that learns from experience in a virtual environment, my colleagues and I have developed several insights into this process. First, embodiment provides access to a rich, continuous source of training signals that, in conjunction with the proper neural structures, naturally support the learning of complex sensory-motor abilities. Second, there is an intriguing developmental cascade of learning, where initial learning to fixate (foveate) a target enables subsequent learning to reach for that target, and also to recognize it within a cluttered visual environment. Finally, there are important functional differences in the learning mechanisms required for different brain areas and associated domains, which converge well with bottom-up biological data, including that on spike- timing dependent plasticity (STDP).