Publication 4813

van Duijn M. V., Keijzer F. A. & Franken D. (2006) Principles of minimal cognition: Casting cognition as sensorimotor coordination. Adaptive Behavior 14(2): 157–170.
Within the cognitive sciences, cognition tends to be interpreted from an anthropocentric perspective, involving a stringent set of human capabilities. Instead, we suggest that cognition is better explicated as a much more general biological phenomenon, allowing the lower bound of cognition to extend much further down the phylogenetic scale. We argue that elementary forms of cognition can already be witnessed in prokaryotes possessing a functional sensorimotor analogue of the nervous system. Building on a case-study of the Escherichia coli bacterium and its sensorimotor system, the TCSTsystem, we home in on the characteristics of minimal cognition, and distinguish it from more basic forms of ontogenetic adaptation. In our view, minimal cognition requires an embodiment consisting of a sensorimotor coupling mechanism that subsumes an autopoietic organization; this forms the basis of the growing consensus that the core of cognition revolves around sensorimotor coupling. We discuss the relevance of our interpretation of minimal cognition for the study of cognition in general.
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