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Barbara Webb (Edinburgh): “Representations and the insect brain”

19 May, 12:00 pm1:30 pm

Abstract: Neuron-level explanations of insect sensorimotor control have been used in the past as exemplars of how non representational accounts of (simple) cognitive behaviours are possible. More recently, we have unravelled the brain circuit that underlies a more complex insect behaviour – their ability to use path integration during convoluted excursions to maintain a ‘home vector’ that indicates the distance and direction of a nest with which they have lost any direct sensory contact. The ‘home vector’ appears to fit many criteria for being called a ‘mental representation’, e.g., the information it contains can be used flexibly in sophisticated navigational decisions, and even communicated between nest-mates in the ‘bee dance’. What insights into the explanatory role of representation can be gained when we have a cognitive model that can be fully mapped to individual identified neurons and their connections in the insect brain?


Barbara Webb is Professor of Biorobotics at the University of Edinburgh, her main research interest is in perceptual systems for the control of behaviour, through building computational and physical (robot) models of the hypothesised mechanisms.


19 May
12:00 pm – 1:30 pm
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