Wednesday, March 08, 2006

current directions of research

The broad motivation of my research is to understand the mechanisms underlying learning and memory of features on a continuum in dynamical systems.

In particular I'm interested in understanding, how can dynamical systems ‘record’ a feature from the environment within a continuum and later ‘make-use’ of this ‘stored-information’ to make a decision? For how long can such a memory persist? And what is required to make it persist for longer or indefinitely? I'm interested in these issues from an evolutionary perspective as well, so questions like: what sort of evolutionary pressure is needed to evolve agents with the capacity to retain a particular memory throughout its lifetime? This corresponds to certain aspects of learning irreversibility and the evolution of critical periods. But also, this work will be concerned with understanding how this learning can be made reversible. So, what sort of dynamical mechanisms does a system 'need' to be able to re-learn a feature in a continuum from the environment over and over?

Currently there are (at least) three different directions my research could take. This has become clearer from discussions. Which directions to emphasize depend a great deal on what the main goal that I have is
[a] If the interest is analyzing the dynamics underlying learning and memory, then I could initially focus on abstract tasks.
[b] If the interest is exploring the role of embodiment in learning, then I should focus on embodied/situated tasks.
[c] If the interest is demonstrating that a CTRNN/evolutionary approach can produce a wide variety of learning phenomena, then I might want to focus more on designing a set of evolutionary experiments that illustrate a wide range of learning behavior.

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