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A model of sensory motor integration applied to a mobile robot

The control of behaviour, like navigating to a goal, is understood as a top down process. This control of behaviour is usually understood in terms of three distinct components: sensory processing, decision-making and movement control. Recently, this view has been questioned on the basis of physiological and behavioural data, blurring the distinction between these three stages.

This raises the question to what extent the motor system itself can contribute to the interpretation of behavioural situations. To investigate this question we use a neural model of sensory motor integration applied to a behaving mobile robot performing a navigation task. We show that the population response of the motor system provides a substrate for the categorization of behavioural situations.

This categorization allows for the assessment of the complexity of a behavioural situation and regulates whether higher-level decision making is required to resolve behavioural conflicts. Our model lends credence to an emerging reconceptualization of behavioural control where the motor system can be considered as part of a high-level perceptual system.

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