Novel plasticity rule can explain the development of sensorimotor intelligence Journal Article

Author(s): Der, Ralf C; Martius, Georg
Article Title: Novel plasticity rule can explain the development of sensorimotor intelligence
Affiliation IST Austria
Abstract: Grounding autonomous behavior in the nervous system is a fundamental challenge for neuroscience. In particular, self-organized behavioral development provides more questions than answers. Are there special functional units for curiosity, motivation, and creativity? This paper argues that these features can be grounded in synaptic plasticity itself, without requiring any higher-level constructs. We propose differential extrinsic plasticity (DEP) as a new synaptic rule for self-learning systems and apply it to a number of complex robotic systems as a test case. Without specifying any purpose or goal, seemingly purposeful and adaptive rhythmic behavior is developed, displaying a certain level of sensorimotor intelligence. These surprising results require no systemspecific modifications of the DEP rule. They rather arise from the underlying mechanism of spontaneous symmetry breaking,which is due to the tight brain body environment coupling. The new synaptic rule is biologically plausible and would be an interesting target for neurobiological investigation. We also argue that this neuronal mechanism may have been a catalyst in natural evolution.
Keywords: learning; intelligence; nonhuman; priority journal; nerve cell plasticity; neurobiology; catalyst; gait; hexapod; sensorimotor function
Journal Title: PNAS
Volume: 112
Issue 45
ISSN: 1091-6490
Publisher: National Academy of Sciences  
Date Published: 2015-11-10
Start Page: E6224
End Page: E6232
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1508400112
Notes: G.M. was supported by a grant of the German Research Foundation (DFG) (SPP 1527) and received funding from the People Programme (Marie Curie Actions) of the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under Research Executive Agency Grant Agreement 291734. We gratefully acknowledge the hospitality and discussions in the group of Nihat Ay. We thank Michael Herrmann, Anna Levina, Sacha Sokoloski, and Sophie Fessl for helpful comments.
Open access: yes (repository)
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