Representations in Dynamical Embodied Agents: Re-Analyzing a Minimally Cognitive Model Agent

Understanding the role of ''representations'' in cognitive science is a fundamental problem facing the emerging framework of embodied, situated, dynamical cognition. To make progress, I follow the approach proposed by an influential representational skeptic, Randall Beer: building artificial agents capable of minimally cognitive behaviors and assessing whether their internal states can be considered to involve representations. Hence, I operationalize the concept of representing as ''standing in,'' and I look for representations in embodied agents involved in simple categorization tasks. In a first experiment, no representation can be found, but the relevance of the task is undermined by the fact that agents with no internal states can reach high performance. A simple modification makes the task more "representationally hungry," and in this case, agents' internal states are found to qualify as representations. I conclude by discussing the benefits of reconciling the embodied-dynamical approach with the notion of representation. © 2012 Cognitive Science Society, Inc.

Publication type: 
Author or Creator: 
Elsevier Science [etc.], Kidlington, Oxford, UK [etc.], Stati Uniti d'America
Cognitive science 36 (2012): 870–895. doi:10.1111/j.1551-6709.2012.01233.x
info:cnr-pdr/source/autori:Mirolli, Marco/titolo:Representations in Dynamical Embodied Agents: Re-Analyzing a Minimally Cognitive Model Agent/doi:10.1111/j.1551-6709.2012.01233.x/rivista:Cognitive science/anno:2012/pagina_da:870/pagina_a:895/intervallo_pa
Resource Identifier:
ISTC Author: 
Marco Mirolli's picture
Real name: