Extending Dynamical Systems Theory to Model Embodied Cognition


should be sent to Jeff Yoshimi, School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts, 5200 North Lake Road, University of California, Merced, CA 95343. E-mail: jyoshimi@ucmerced.edu


We define a mathematical formalism based on the concept of an ‘‘open dynamical system” and show how it can be used to model embodied cognition. This formalism extends classical dynamical systems theory by distinguishing a ‘‘total system’’ (which models an agent in an environment) and an ‘‘agent system’’ (which models an agent by itself), and it includes tools for analyzing the collections of overlapping paths that occur in an embedded agent's state space. To illustrate the way this formalism can be applied, several neural network models are embedded in a simple model environment. Such phenomena as masking, perceptual ambiguity, and priming are then observed. We also use this formalism to reinterpret examples from the embodiment literature, arguing that it provides for a more thorough analysis of the relevant phenomena.