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ERC

CDAC Report Summary

Project ID: 341196
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Spain

Periodic Report Summary 2 - CDAC (The role of consciousness in adaptive behavior: A combined empirical, computational and robot based approach)

Understanding the nature of consciousness is one of the grand outstanding scientific challenges and two of its features stand out: consciousness is defined as the construction of one coherent scene but this scene is experienced with a delay relative to the action of the agent and not necessarily the cause of actions and thoughts. Did evolution render solutions to the challenge of survival that includes epiphenomenal processes? The Conscious Distributed Adaptive Control (CDAC) project aims at resolving this paradox by using a multi-disciplinary approach to show the functional role of consciousness in adaptive behaviour, to identify its underlying neuronal principles and to construct a neuromorphic robot based real-time conscious architecture. CDAC proposes that the shift from surviving in a physical world to one that is dominated by intentional agents requires radically different control architectures combining parallel and distributed control loops to assure real-time operation together with a second level of control that assures coherence through sequential coherent representation of self and the task domain, i.e. consciousness. This conscious scene is driving dedicated credit assignment and planning beyond the immediately given information. CDAC advances a comprehensive framework progressing beyond the state of the art and will be realized using system level models of a conscious architecture, detailed computational studies of its underlying neuronal substrate focusing, empirical validation with a humanoid robot and stroke patients and the advancement of beyond state of the art tools appropriate to the complexity of its objectives. The CDAC project directly addresses one of the main outstanding questions in science: the function and genesis of consciousness and will advance our understanding of mind and brain, provide radically new neurorehabilitation technologies and contribute to realizing a new generation of robots with advanced social competence.

CDAC considers consciousness as a solution to an evolutionary problem rather than a side-effect of evolution or an epiphenomenon. With respect to the question of the function of consciousness, two features stand out and seem paradoxical. On one hand consciousness is defined as the construction of one coherent scene. On the other hand, experimental evidence shows that this conscious scene is experienced with a significant delay relative to the real-time action of the agent and not necessarily the cause of actions and thoughts.

The resulting paradox is that evolution in optimizing fitness appears to have rendered solutions to the challenge of survival that appear epiphenomenal. (see also Paul’s at TEDX talk “Consciousness and the Machine”

The CDAC project addresses the question of the function of consciousness by using a combined theoretical and experimental approach including empirical and computational neuroscience and robotics to show the functional role of consciousness in adaptive behaviour, to identify its underlying neuronal principles and to construct a neuromorphic robot based real-time conscious architecture.

The main outcomes the CDAC Project is pursuing are as follows:
1. Advance a robot based integrated consciousness architecture: CDAC
2. Model the key structures along the neuroaxis that comprise the neuronal substrate of the CDAC dual-process theory: tegmentum, thalamus, neo-cortex, hippocampus and cerebellum
3. Validate the CDAC architecture in social tasks of increasing complexity
4. Validate the neurobiological model in stroke patients and healthy controls
5. Advance novel and beyond state of the art simulation, monitoring and analysis

The CDAC project directly addresses one of the main outstanding questions in science: the function and genesis of consciousness and will advance our understanding of mind and brain, provide radically new neurorehabilitation technologies and contribute to realizing a new generation of robots with advanced social competence.

Contact

Eva Martin, (Head of the Research Services)
Tel.: +34 93 542 2140
Fax: +34 93 542 1440
E-mail
Record Number: 199461 / Last updated on: 2017-06-21
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