The inner world as a consequence of behavioural and perceptual simulation
1 / 36

The Inner World As a Consequence of Behavioural and Perceptual Simulation - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

  • Uploaded on
  • Presentation posted in: General

Faculty of Medicine Lund University. The Inner World As a Consequence of Behavioural and Perceptual Simulation. Germund Hesslow Birmingham 200 3. Problems of the inner world. How does the inner world arise? What is the function of the inner world?

I am the owner, or an agent authorized to act on behalf of the owner, of the copyrighted work described.

Download Presentation

The Inner World As a Consequence of Behavioural and Perceptual Simulation

An Image/Link below is provided (as is) to download presentation

Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author.While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - E N D - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Presentation Transcript

Faculty of Medicine

Lund University

The Inner World As a Consequence of Behavioural and Perceptual Simulation

Germund Hesslow

Birmingham 2003

Problems of the inner world

  • How does the inner world arise?

  • What is the function of the inner world?

  • Can animals and robots have inner worlds?

The Simulation Hypothesis

  • Behavioural simulation: early stages of an action can occur without causing overt movement.

2) Perceptual simulation: perceptual activity can be elicited within the brain without an external stimulus.

3) Anticipation: simulated perception can be elicited by

(simulated) behaviour.

David Hume (1711-76)

Alexander Bain (1818-1903)

Simulation of behaviour: covert, incipient behaviour

’The tendency of the idea of an action to produce the fact, shows that the idea is already the fact in a weaker form. Thinking is restrained speaking or acting.’ (Bain, 1868 p 340)


Have the radio on but the volume turned down.

Have the car engine running but with no clutch

Hierarchical organisation of action

Draw triangle

Get pen Get paper Draw

Draw horizontal line Draw sloping ….

Contract m brachioradialis Contract ....

Main signal flow

Evidence for covert behaviour

Imaging studies

Lesion studies


Behavioural experiments

Covert behaviour – primary motor cortex





Subjects were instructed to imagine forearm flexion¯ extension movements with their right arm. TMS was applied to the motor cortex on one side, and the MEPs were recorded from the contralateral flexor muscle (biceps brachialis).

Fadiga et al. Neuropsychologia, 37:147-158, 1999

Simulation of Perception:sensory reactivation

‘What is the manner of occupation of the brain with a resuscitated feeling of resistance, a smell or a sound? There is only one answer that seems admissible. The renewed feeling occupies the very same parts, and in the same manner, as the original feeling, and no other parts, nor in any other assignable manner. ‘

(Bain, 1868, p. 338)

Pain Perception

Phantom pain



Evidence for perceptual simulation

Behavioural experiments

Imaging studies

Lesion studies


Mental rotation

MRI signal intensity in visual cortex during external vs imagined stimulus

Le Bihan et al. PNAS 90:11802-11805, 1993

MRI activity with external and imagined stimulus

Tootell et al, TINS, 2: 174-183, 1998

I am NOT suggesting

That the brain creates an image,a representation or a unified experience of the sensory input or that that image is then inspected to guide behaviour

I AM suggesting

That a complex stimulus can elicit many different behaviours, such as describing the stimulus verbally, pointingtowards it, avoiding it, drawing it…

The same is true about an internally generated stimulus.

Anticipation:action-sensation associations

’The succession designated as cause and effect, are fixed in the mind by Contiguity. The simplest activity is where our own activity is the cause. We strike a blow, and there comes a noise and a fracture. … Hardly any bond of association arrives sooner at maturity, than the bond between our own actions and the sensible effects that follow from them.’ (Bain, 1868, p. 427)

Predictable consequence


















Anticipation – no maps

Tolman & Gleitman (1949) J Exp Psych39: 810-819.

Behavioural chain

Simulation of behavioural chain

Do we need cognitive maps?






rCBF during Tower of London task

Baker et el., Neuropsychologia. 34:515-26, 1996


Talking to oneself

Simulating conversation

Why do motor structures participate in cognitive functions ?

  • Thinking is covert movement

  • Abstract actions need similar auxiliary systems

Working Memory as Covert Actions Extended in Time

  • Predictions:

  • Working memory

  • involves prefrontal and posterior (sensory) cortex

  • utilises the same circuitry as long-term memory

  • is modality and feature specific

Strong points of the simulation hypothesis

  • Ontological parsimony: no representations, images …

  • No evolutionary leaps: same structures underlying inner world as are used for perception and movement

  • Explains relationship between cognitive and motor functions

Problems of the inner world

  • How does the inner world arise?

By simulation of behaviour and perception

  • What is the function of the inner world?

Inevitable consequence of simulation

  • Can animals and robots have inner worlds?

Yes, if their ”brains” can generate their own input

Outline of the simulation hypothesis can be found in

Hesslow G (2002) Conscious thought as simulation of behaviour and perception. Trends Cogn Sci, 6:242-247

Many of the critical ideas can be found in the behaviourist literature, for instance

Bain A (1855, 1868) The Senses and the Intellect

Skinner BF (1974) About Behaviorism. Knopf, New York

For empirical evidence for covert behaviour, see papers by Jeannerod, e.g.

Jeannerod M (1994) The representing brain: Neural correlates of motor intention and imagery. Behav Brain Sci 17: 187-245

Evidence for simulation of perception is reviewed in

Kosslyn SM (1994) Image and Brain: The Resolution of the Imagery Debate. MIT Press, Cambridge

Robot simulation

Ziemke T, Jirenhed D-A, Hesslow G (2002) Blind adaptive Behavior Based on Internal Simulation of Perception. Technical report HS-IDA-TR-02-001

More information on my website


  • Login