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From locomotion to cognition

English title From locomotion to cognition
Applicant Pfeifer Rolf
Number 109210
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Institut für Informatik Universität Zürich
Institution of higher education University of Zurich - ZH
Main discipline Information Technology
Start/End 01.10.2005 - 30.09.2008
Approved amount 324'409.34
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Keywords (5)

embodiment; morphological computation; adaptive locomotion; symbol grounding; associative learning

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
In this project, we applied the synthetic methodology (“understanding by building”) to elucidate the problems of adaptive locomotion and how they relate to cognition. In particular, we investigated how morphology and materials can be exploited for locomotion and how adopting an embodied perspective is crucial for developing and understanding intelligent behavior. Our explorations into embodied cognition have helped us make considerable progress in formulating design principles underlying cognition and intelligence in general, and adaptive locomotion, in particular. We have disseminated our findings in the book “How the Body Shapes the Way we Think” (Pfeifer and Bongard, 2007) and in a paper in Science magazine entitled “Self-organization, embodiment, and biologically inspired robotics” (Pfeifer et al., 2007). Several basic concepts and technologies that we are currently investigating (such as embodiment, self-organization, information self-structuring, and body dynamics) are converging towards a more consistent and systematic explanation of emergent adaptive behavior and complex dynamical interaction of brains, bodies and environment. Another key concept we were studying in the context of this project is morphological computation. The guiding idea is that the time is ripe to formulate and develop a new paradigm for embodied computation (explored in this project), which might be quite different from the conventional Turing computational paradigm based on abstract symbol manipulation.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
122279 From locomotion to cognition 01.10.2008 Project funding (Div. I-III)
129410 Soft Robotics: Morphology, materials and functionalities 01.07.2010 International Exploratory Workshops