Beyond the brain: embodied, situated & distributed cognition

Cognitio 2006

Young researchers conference in cognitive science

Montréal, August 19th, 20th & 21st 2006.

Cognitive science face a major methodological and conceptual change since the 90's. Whereas the brain was traditionally conceived as being the only seat of intelligence, many researches emphasize the entrenchment of the brain in the body, the context and culture. In neuroscience (Ballard 1991, Churchland and Al 1994), in psychology (Thelen and Smith 1994, Barsalou 1999), Artificial Intelligence and robotics (Pfeifer and Scheier 1999), Artificial Life (Langton 1995), linguistics (Lakoff and Johnson, 1999) and philosophy (van Gelder 1998, Clark 1997), one observes an extension of the domain of cognition: cognitive processes are not limited to the symbolic processing of internal information, but implemented in various sensorimotors processes (motricity, perception, emotions, coordination, imagery, emulation, simulation) and various substrates (members, bodies, artifacts, environmental regularities). Wheter it is problem-solving or perception, decision-making or memory, cognition is embodied, located in an environment and distributed among agents, artifacts and external informational structures. The constant sensorimotor interaction, the role of action in perception and learning, the agent/environnement coupling and collective intelligence are cognitive determinants which one must take into account to describe adequately natural cognitive systems and to build artificial cognitive systems. If one can, conceptually, distinguish the brain and the body or the environment in cognition, in facts the three are bound by a flood of dense and continuous information.

The year 2006 marks the 15th anniversary of seminal publications in this field: The Embodied Mind (Varela, Thompson & Rosch); Animate Vision (Ballard), important manifestos like Intelligence Without Representation (Rodney Brooks), and Foundations of AI: The big issues (David Kirsh). Moreover, this year is also centenaire of major publications by philosopher John Dewey (Reality as experience, The experimental theory of knowledge, Experience and objective idealism), whose experientialist and naturalist theory of knowledge are recognized today as precursory of embodied cognition. Thus, it is time for a synthesis of what was accomplished and what is to come in the process of naturalization of the mind. This conference aims at presenting a panorama of current research in embodied, situated and distributed cognition (ESDC). A non exhaustive list of topics that may be adressed are :


Get Firefox! [Internet Site Design : Nicolas Payette]