Institut Jean Nicod

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Feelings, Perception and Action

Institut Jean Nicod, Pavillon Jardin, Salle de réunion au RDC,Ecole Normale Supérieure 29, rue d’Ulm - 6 et 7 octobre 2011

Feelings, Perception, and Action
Exploratory workshop
Project ANR-Confidence

Thursday 6 & Friday 7 October 2011
Institut Jean-Nicod, 29 rue d’Ulm, F-75005 Paris
Salle de réunion du Pavillon Jardin
Organization: Jérôme Dokic & Tiziana Zalla

Thursday 6 October

09h30 Introduction by Jérôme Dokic (EHESS, IJN) & Tiziana Zalla (CNRS, IJN)
10h00-11h00 Mohan Matthen (University of Toronto), “How To Be Sure: Sensory Exploration and Empirical Certainty”
Coffee
11h30-12h30 Pierre Jacob (CNRS, IJN), “Having, sharing and ascribing a goal”
Lunch
14h30-15h30 Kevin O’Regan (CNRS, LPP), "Why red doesn't sound like a bell: Understanding the feel of consciousness".
15h30-16h30 Hong Yu Wong (Centre for Integrative Neuroscience, Tübingen), “The Puzzle of Bodily Awareness in Action”
Coffee
17h00-18h00 Sylvie Chokron (CNRS, Fondation Ophtalmologique Rothschild), “Perception-Action interactions in spatial organization: evidence from normal and brain-damaged patients”
Dinner


Friday 7 October

09h30-10h30 Ricarda Schubotz (University of Münster, Department of Psychology; Max Planck Institute for Neurological Research, Cologne), “Perceiving the actor, the scene, and being an actor too: action perception beyond object manipulation”
Coffee
11h00-12h00 Jeffrey Zacks (Washington University), “Perceptual Parsing of Human Action”
Lunch
14h30-15h30 Luciano Fadiga (University of Ferrara; The Italian Institute of Technology), “Sensorimotor processing of language”
15h30-16h30 Malika Auvray (CNRS, LIMSI) & Ophelia Deroy (Centre for the Study of the Senses, Institute of Philosophy, University of London), “Understanding sensory substitution devices beyond the perceptual assumption”
Coffee
17h00-18h00 Tiziana Zalla (CNRS, IJN), “Perception of actions and goals in individuals with autism spectrum disorders”
Farewell dinner

Abstracts

Understanding sensory substitution devices beyond the perceptual assumption

Malika Auvray (CNRS, LIMSI) & Ophelia Deroy (Centre for the Study of the Senses, Institute of Philosophy, University of London) 

Despite the numerous studies and research programs devoted to their development and integration, sensory substitution devices (SSDs) have failed to live up to their goal of allowing one to ‘see with the skin’ [1]. This somewhat peremptory claim, as well as the research conducted so far, is based on an implicit perceptual paradigm. Such perceptual assumption accepts the equivalence between using a SSD and perceiving through a particular sensory modality. Our aim is to provide an alternative model, which defines the integration of SSDs as being closer to culturally-implemented cognitive extensions of existing perceptual skills such as reading. In this talk, we will show why the analogy with reading provides a better explanation of the actual findings, that is, both of the positive results achieved and of the limitations noticed across the field of research on SSDs. The parallel with the most recent two-route and interactive models of reading [e.g., 2] generates a radically new way of approaching these results, by stressing the dependence of integration on the existing perceptual-semantic route. In addition, it enables us to generate innovative research questions and specific predictions which set the stage for future work.

[1] Dehaene, S., Cohen, L. Sigman, M., & Vinckier, F. (2005). The neural code for written words: a proposal. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 9, 335-341. 
[2] White, B. W., Saunders, F. A., Scadden, L., Bach-y-Rita, P., & Collins, C.C. (1970). Seeing with the skin. Perception & Psychophysics, 7, 23-27.


Perception-Action interactions in spatial organization: evidence from normal and brain-damaged patients

Sylvie Chokron (CNRS, Fondation Ophtalmologique Rothschild)

Many studies have revealed an asymmetric spatial perception and representation in various tasks such as line bisection, length representation, aesthetic preference, straight ahead pointing in normal and brain-damaged participants. These perceptual biases have been repeatedly explained in terms of hemispheric dominance, however, we recently showed that most of them can be accounted for by the subject’s sensori-motor experience. More generally, the findings we will present suggest that a lateralized sensori-motor experience influences subsequent space perception. Accordingly, we will discuss the hypothesis that ecological sensori-motor experience could be involved in asymmetric perception exhibited by normal individuals and neglect patients.


Sensorimotor processing of language

Luciano Fadiga (University of Ferrara; The Italian Institute of Technology)

Despite the fact that the famous ‘motor theory of speech perception’ by Alvin Liberman dates almost fifty years, a strong debate still survives on the possibility that speech understanding does not rely on sensory processing alone. In my presentation I will provide evidence that Liberman was substantially right and that a motor framework for language processing exists, not only for speech but also for syntax. To this purpose I will present very recent TMS data, patients studies, and computational models, all converging in the same direction. A final remark on the role of the motor system as an attentional driving mechanism will be proposed for further discussion. 


“Having, sharing and ascribing a goal”

Pierre Jacob (CNRS, Institut Jean Nicod)

Some of the cognitive neuroscientists who discovered mirror neurons argue that the function of mirroring (i.e. MN activity in an observer’s brain) is to ascribe an intention to an agent. Their argument involves two major steps: (i) the shared-intentionality model of goal-ascription and (ii) the deflationary account of intention-ascription. According to the shared-intentionality model of goal-ascription, sharing a goal with an agent is necessary and sufficient for ascribing it to the agent. According to the deflationary account of intention-ascription, to ascribe an intention to an agent is to infer the next most likely goal of the agent. After critically examining both the shared-intentionality model of goal-ascription and the deflationary account of intention-ascription, I argue for an alternative interpretation of the function of MN activity.

How To Be Sure: Sensory Exploration and Empirical Certainty

Mohan Matthen (University of Toronto)

The senses can completely dispel rational grounds for a certain kind of doubt, empirical doubt, but they cannot dispel another kind, sceptical doubt. In the first part of this paper, a hitherto unrecognized kind of knowledge-gathering activity, called sensory exploration, is described and discussed. It is argued, further, that sensory exploration eliminates a certain kind of doubt. In the second part, two kinds of doubt are distinguished in an original way. It is argued that only one of these kinds of doubt can be eliminated by sensory exploration.


Perceiving the actor, the scene, and being an actor too: action perception beyond object manipulation

Ricarda I. Schubotz (University of Münster, Department of Psychology; Max Planck Institute for Neurological Research, Cologne)

Action observation has attracted considerable interest in imaging research, but there are only few studies going beyond single-chunk actions reduced to pure object manipulation. In a series of fMRI studies, we investigated what kind of information is exploited when we attend to another person’s action. Using an implicit task (report details about object manipulation or action in a room), we varied perspective, actor coherence, story coherence, contextual information, and expectation. It shows that there are several networks behind the so-called “action observation network” (i.e., the premotor-parietal loops) that reflect the exploitation of various sources of information during action perception, even when subjects are not required (or even discouraged) to attend to this “irrelevant” information. Natural action perception should therefore not be reduced to what has been referred to as “action observation network”; rather, we are only at the beginning to surmise the complexity and multi-dimensionality of action (or event) perception.


Perceptual Parsing of Human Action

Jeffrey Zacks (Washington University)

Given that sensory inputs are dynamic, complex, and continuous, why does our conscious experience of others’ actions seem to consist of discrete events that follow one upon another? In this talk I will describe a theory of why and how people perceive discrete events. I’ll argue that the segmentation of ongoing activity into events is a fundamental mechanism of cognitive control. Segmentation results from monitoring errors in prediction during perception and comprehension. A crucial consequence of segmentation is the updating of mental models of one’s current situation. We believe that these models are important not just for perception but also for the control of action. We have tested this account by looking at how people understand and remember digital video and narrative texts. Our methods include functional neuroimaging, neuropsychology, and adult development. I’ll describe some recent research that tests the theoretical account and applies it to training and cognitive remediation.


The Puzzle of Bodily Awareness in Action

Hong Yu Wong (Centre for Integrative Neuroscience, Tübingen)

Does bodily awareness have a pivotal role to play in the control of bodily action? And if so, what kind of role does it have? The answer to the first question from reflection on lived experience appears to be positive, yet there are phenomenological and empirical challenges to an affirmative answer. On the other hand, if bodily awareness were not implicated in the control of bodily action, then we would appear to be in our bodies as pilots are in their ships. In this talk, I will formulate a certain puzzle about the role of bodily awareness in the control of bodily action. The point of finding a proper formulation of the puzzle is to focus the question of whether bodily awareness is crucial to action, and thus to enable us to approach the question of what significance bodily awareness has in embodied agency.


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