TITLE:From the frog Rana computatrix to the speaking human: A Computational Neuroethology of Language Evolution
AFFILIATION: University of Southern California
DATE: uesday 8th April 2003
TIME: 2:00pm to 3.00pm
PLACE: CSE K17 1st Floor Seminar Room
Grey Walter's Machina speculatrix inspired the name Rana computatrix for a family of models of visuomotor co-ordination in the frog which contributed to the development of computational neuroethology. We here offer an "evolutionary" perspective on models in the same tradition for rat, monkey and human. For rat we show how the frog-like Taxon Affordance Model provides a basis for the spatial navigation mechanisms that involve hippocampus and other brain regions. For monkey we recall two models of neural mechanisms for visuomotor co-ordination. The first, for saccades, shows how interactions between parietal and frontal cortex augment superior colliculus seen as the homologue of frog tectum; the second, for grasping: continues the theme of parieto-frontal interactions, linking parietal affordances to motor schemas in premotor cortex. It further emphasizes the mirror system for grasping, in which neurons are active both when the monkey executes a specific grasp and when it observes a similar grasp executed by others. The model of human brain mechanisms is based on the Mirror System Hypothesis of the evolution of the language-ready brain which sees human Broca's area as an evolved extension of the mirror system for grasping.
BIOGRAPHY OF SPEAKER:
Michael A. Arbib is the Fletcher Jones Professor and Chairman of Computer Science, as well as Professor of Neuroscience, Biomedical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Psychology at the University of Southern California, which he joined in September of 1986. Born in England in 1940, he grew up in Australia (with a B.Sc.(Hons.) from Sydney University), and received his Ph.D. in Mathematics from MIT in 1963. After five years at Stanford, Arbib became chairman of the Department of Computer and Information Science at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1970, and remained in the Department until August of 1986.
School of Computer Science & Engineering, UNSW.