Skills as brain-based information processing between perception and action, that use slow neurons in parallel, that are are passed through the genome, and that have evolved.
- The current research investigates the evolution of skills (in vertebrates).
We suggest looking at some examples, starting with an
innate skill, a
learned skill, and a group-level set of
complementary & interactive skills.
We also suggest looking at the potential
timeline of emerging skills,
as well as considering some
and some alternative
methodologies and paradigms.
- What does it take to walk? We start with the action, then look at the skill, and then at the movement. We propose an innate skill-automaton.
- How do we stop from falling over while walking up a slope? The skill integrate information from the perception of gravity, and adjusts joint angles so that the plumb line from the centre of gravity to the floor does not go too far from the supporting limbs.
- How do we intercept someone or chase prey? The skill needs to utilize perception actively to control the direction of the chase. The skill needs to twist the hip-joint to face toward and run toward the prey. The skill needs to integrate conditions of the form "if ... then ...", or "unless ... do ...".
- How do we mimick someone, such as for imprinting or following a fitness leader? Information from visual observation is converted into joint-angle instructions for action.
- How do we learn from mimicry? Some skill needs to abstract and store the output information from an innate skill and integrate it into an internal representation of a learned skill in order to generate appropriate future action. In language terms, the description of the leader's action has to be stored while preserving the time sequence: "first do ... then do ... then do ...".
- How do we optimize the chase by running in a straight line to intercept the prey? The skill needs to predict where the prey will run and where the predator might intercept. The direction for the chase is chosen from the predicted point of interception. In language terms, since the prediction has to precede the action, we need hypothetical constructions such as: "if the prey were to run in this direction and if I were to run in that direction then I could catch the prey at ..."
- How do we coordinate action with group-level complementary skill sets. From simple information exchanges to communication - this may be the root of spoken and written language for humans.
The research is very much a work in progress, and is documented (at least in part) on this Web site using the organization below: