Using sensorimotor dependencies to understand the nature of perceptual experience and the notion of “body”

Kevin O'Regan

CNRS - Université Paris Descartes
Wednesday, January 14, 2015 at 12:00pm
560 Evans Hall

The “sensorimotor” theory of perceptual experience suggests that experience of the world necessarily involves understanding the relation between possible actions and the resulting potential changes in sensory input. I will first rapidly recall how, this idea, which seems at first like a purely philosophical idea, makes concrete scientific predictions and changes research directions: examples are the phenomenon of change blindness, sensory substitution, aspects of color perception, and the “hard problem” of consciousness.

I shall then take the particular question of how brains understand the bodies that they belong to. If brains only have access to data coming from unknown and uncalibrated interoceptive and exteroceptive sensors, then distinguishing the body from the environment, and understanding body structure, are non-trivial problems. I will show how the sensorimotor approach starts to provide a possible way of thinking.