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Title: Creation and control of mind-oriented movements

Abstract: As other core human abilities, referential communication appears a fairly straightforward phenomenon. We have language: I can say what I mean, and you can think what you heard. In fact, it has proven hard to understand this ability, as indicated by repeated failures in building artificial cognitive agents that can deal with the pervasive ambiguity of human communicative signals. Part of the problem is related to the assumption that human communicative abilities rely on coding-decoding of symbols. It has been neglected that creating and understanding those symbols requires a mechanism powerful enough for negotiating them across communicators, rapidly.

This talk will address those issues by considering the neural mechanisms that allow us to achieve this cognitive feat. The evidence has been gathered by studying manual actions, under experimental conditions designed to control the communicative aspects of those actions and their shared history across communicators. I will describe empirical evidence suggesting that the selection of communicative actions is largely independent from the operations of the language system, strongly dependent on the shared history of understanding a symbol, and supported by a computational overlap between selecting and understanding behavioural vehicles of that symbol.

Host: Rogier Mars