"Organic" Compositionality: An Account for Immanent Properties of Symbols, Self and Time
Speaker: Jun Tani, D.Eng, Head of Laboratory for Behavior and Dynamic Cognition RIKEN - Brain Science Institute Computer Science, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich
Date: 30 June 2008 Time: 12:00-14:00
Location: "Mediterranean Studies" Seminar Room, FORTH, Heraklion, Crete
Host: Panos Trahanias


Compositionality has been considered as an essential property of human cognition. It looks as if meanings of sentences were derived from compositions of words and complex human acts were generated from compositions of reusable behavior primitives. However, if we look at our everyday behaviors, most of them seem to be generated in more "organic" ways rather than in computational ways of, as like, manipulating concrete objects. Our behaviors are quite context-dependent, surprisingly flexible and emergent while being robust and fluent.

Now, our synthetic robotics studies for two decades are ready to show that this aspect of "organic" compositionality in cognitive behaviors have resulted from self-organization processes of neuro-dynamic systems that have direct coupling with the sensory-motor reality. Ultimately, our approaches are extended to elucidate immanent properties of "symbols", "self" and "time", through the triangular researches on neuroscience, dynamical systems and phenomenology.


Jun Tani received the B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from Waseda University, dual M.S. degree in electrical engineering and mechanical engineering from University of Michigan and Dr. Eng. from Sophia University. He started his research career in Sony Computer Science Laboratory in 1990. He has been appointed as a team leader in Lab. for Behavior and Dynamic Cognition, Brain Science Institute, RIKEN in Tokyo since 2000 where he is currently leading 7 PosDocs. He was also appointed as a visiting associate professor in Univ. of Tokyo from 1997 to 2002.

He has studied the problems of robot learning with theoretical modeling of complex adaptive systems and neuronal networks for more than 15 years. He has been also interested in phenomenological problems of "self-consciousness", and his studies have addressed those problems from the view of embodied cognition. Eight years ago, he started neuroscience studies on behavior learning processes in real brains utilizing both scheme of human brain imaging and animal electrophysiology. His envision is to establish the "brain-inspired robotics", by integrating these approaches.

More information can be found at: http://www.brain.riken.go.jp/en/j_tani.html

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