Colloquium Cognitive Systems

Perception, cognition, and action in the wild

Prof. Constantin A. Rothkopf, PhD (TU Darmstadt)


Abstract:  Imagine navigating through your kitchen, walking around your table and chairs, reaching the counter, sliding a cup on the countertop, pouring yourself some coffee, and preparing a sandwich. Such an every-day situation requires a sequence of behaviors involving the sophisticated interplay of perception, attention, cognition, planning, and action, all unfolding in an ambiguous and uncertain world. Yet, although past research in the behavioral sciences has revealed many properties of these constituent faculties, the understanding of how humans coordinate these cognitive abilities when carrying out every-day tasks in an ambiguous, uncertain, and noisy world is still rudimentary. 
In this talk I will present work from our lab involving behavioral experiments and computational models to identify and characterize perception, cognition, and action in the wild. Our hypothesis is, that sequential actions involving perceptual uncertainty, action variability, internal and external costs and benefits can be understood and modeled in the unified framework of optimal sequential decision making under uncertainty. This framework can explain many phenomena ranging from human blinking strategies, learning of active vision behaviors, to perceptual biases in continuous psychophysics, and presumed heuristics in ball catching.

About: Constantin Rothkopf is full professor at the Institute of Psychology and the founding director of the Center for Cognitive Science at the Technical University of Darmstadt. He obtained a joint PhD in Brain & Cognitive Sciences and Computer Science and has recently obtained the ERC consolidator grant 'ACTOR'.