Shimon Edelman (Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA)

Fundamental computational constraints on the time course of perception, action, and consciousness

Begin: Mon, Aug 20, 2018 16:00

BCCN Berlin
Lecture Hall
Philippstr. 13, Haus 6
10115 Berlin



A cognitive system faced with contingent events that cause rapid changes in sensory data may
(i) incrementally incorporate new data into the ongoing perceptual and motor processing; or
(ii) restart processing on each new event; or (iii) sample the data and hold onto the sample until
its processing is complete, while disregarding any contingent changes. We offer a set of computational
first-principles arguments for a hypothesis, according to which any system that
contends with certain classes of perception and behavioral control tasks must include the
sample-and-hold option (possibly alongside the other two, which may be useful in other tasks).
This hypothesis has implications for understanding the dynamics of perception and action. In
particular, a sample-and-hold channel necessarily processes sensory data on some kind of
cycle (which does not imply precise periodicity). Further, being prepared to face the world
at all times requires that the sampling that initiates each cycle be triggered by every significant
action on part of the agent itself, such as saccades. We survey a range of evidence for the
sample-and-hold functionality, touching upon diverse phenomena such as attentional blink
and backward masking, the yoking of olfaction to respiration, thalamocortical interactions,
and metastable brain dynamics in perception and consciousness.

Joint work with Roy Moyal.

Organized by

John-Dylan Haynes

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