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AISB event Bulletin Item

CALL FOR PAPERS: Symposium Consciousness without inner models A Sensorimotor account of what IS going in on our heads, at AISB 50, 1-4 April 2014, Goldsmiths, London, UK


We invite abstracts for talks at a one-day symposium (exact date TBA), taking place as part of the 
AISB 50th Anniversary conference (Goldsmiths, University of London, 1-4 April 2014).
Submission deadline: 3 January 2014.
There has been much criticism over the years of the idea that conscious experience depends on 
inner representational models of the environment. Enactive accounts (e.g. Thompson 2007) and the 
sensorimotor account more particularly (ORegan & No 2001; ORegan 2011) have prominently 
criticized the reliance on inner models and they have offered an alternative way of thinking about 
experience. The idea of sensorimotor approaches is that experience involves the perceivers 
attunement to the way in which sensory stimulation depends on action. But how then should we 
conceive of what happens in the agents head to allow for this attunement? In this symposium we 
focus on two questions. First, how does an enactive sensorimotor theory offer guidance for the 
interpretation of neurophysiological findings? Second, how are its predictions about neural 
processes different from the predictions of representationalist accounts?
The first question, concerning the philosophical interpretation of neurophysiological findings, 
may be addressed by focusing on key processes such as corollary discharge or efference copy 
and notions like expectation error and forward models in relation to the sensorimotor account 
or enactive accounts more generally. Here the main question is how to get the brain into view from 
an enactive/sensorimotor perspective. Where classical approaches speak of neural computation of 
properties of the environment, or the build-up of representations in the brain, what specific 
analysis can a sensorimotor account offer in its place? Addressing this question is urgently 
needed, for there seem to be no accepted alternatives to representational interpretations of the 
inner processes. Also robotic models of perceptual processes are often interpreted as mimicking 
the allegedly representational nature of neural processes. A sensorimotor account could help to 
avoid this bias towards interpretations based on the notion of inner models.
The second question, concerning the predictions following from an enactive/sensorimotor account, 
requires contrasting the neural processes that are postulated in representational theories, with 
the processes required by the enactive/sensorimotor account. Which processes postulated by 
representational accounts are rejected by the sensorimotor account or enactive accounts more 
generally? For example, why and when can neural binding or filling in be rejected? And are 
there processes that are specifically required by sensorimotor theory, which are not required by 
representational theories? In the part of the symposium addressing these questions we aim to 
clarify which constraints on inner processes are proposed by the sensorimotor account. If the 
sensorimotor account is right, these constraints will of course apply to neural processes as well 
as to robotic models of perception.
A Sequel: The symposium can be considered a sequel to the AISB Sensorimotor Theory Workshop, 
held September 26, 2012, at Goldsmiths, University of London. The present workshop is focused 
particularly on inner processes from the perspective of sensorimotor theory.

Call for papers: Abstracts of 700-1000 words, prepared for blind reviewing, can be submitted to
Jan Degenaar at: Degenaar.jan@gmail.com. Please include Sensorimotor Symposium in the subject 
line. Talks will be 30 minutes including discussion. The submission deadline is 3 January 2014. 
Notifications of acceptance will be sent before the end of February.
Symposium organizers: 

Jan Degenaar 

(Laboratoire Psychologie de la Perception, Universit Paris Descartes, Paris, France)
J. Kevin ORegan 

(Laboratoire Psychologie de la Perception, Universit Paris Descartes, Paris, France)
Symposium website: http://lpp.psycho.univ-paris5.fr/feel/?page_id=129
AISB website: http://www.aisb.org.uk/