Event Abstract

Object Affordances in the Context of Sensory Motor Contingencies

  • 1 University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Dept. of Neurophysiology and Pathophysiology, Germany
  • 2 University of Hamburg, Department of Informatics, Germany

Actions are fundamental for perception leading to law-like relations, which can be described by the theory of Sensory Motor Contingencies (SMCs) [1]. We propose that actions do not only play a key role for perception, but also in developing more complex cognitive capabilities, e.g. definition of object concepts and action plans. Once SMCs have been learned their mastery readily can lead to goal-oriented behavior.
We want to exploit the concept of SMCs to learn object affordances [2] and use them for grasping in a real-world robot system. The robot will learn which features of an object are relevant for grasping and choose its motor actions accordingly. For this purpose, we suggest a novel architecture, which combines unsupervised learning of Sigma-Pi neurons [3] and reinforcement learning (RL).
To perform successful grasping two steps are necessary. First, the position of the target object has to be identified and it has to be known in which relation this position is with respect to the hand that will be used for grasping. Multiplying the co-activation of the input units coding for hand and object position and summing over the multiplied inputs leads to an invariant output representing the distance of the two entities. This can be done using Sigma-Pi neurons. The next step is to learn the motor actions that result in a movement of the hand to the object. For this purpose classical reinforcement learning, e.g. SARSA is applied.
Using a traditional approach would lead to first train the Sigma-Pi layer in a self-organizing fashion [3] and then, in a second step, use the learned relations as a basis for RL. A self-organized percept is thereby adaptively paired with a suitable action.
We propose an alternative method that is capable of learning both, the relations of object and hand and the movement of the hand towards the object in a single-step procedure. In RL the prediction error between estimates of neighboring state values is determined and in turn used to modulate learning of action weights that encode both, value function and action strategy (Q-values). However, after a successful action the prediction error can not only be used to update the Q-values, it also can be used to adapt the weights of the Sigma-Pi neurons of the lower layer. These neurons, each associated to an action, thereby learn the action-relevant input manifold in a law-like relation. A similar approach has been successfully applied to learn action-relevant features of stimuli [4].
Currently we are working on a proof-of-concept simulation comparing the one-step approach to the traditional two-step procedure.


1. O'Regan, J.K. and A. Noe, A sensorimotor account of vision and visual consciousness. Behav Brain Sci, 2001. 24(5): p. 939-73; discussion 973-1031.
2. Gibson, J.J., R. Shaw, and J. Bransford, The Theory of Affordances, in Perceiving, Acting, and Knowing: Toward an Ecological Psychology. 1977, Lawrence Erlbaum: New Jersey.
3. Weber, C. and S. Wermter, A self-organizing map of Sigma-Pi units. Neurocomputing, 2007. 70(13-15): p. 2552-2560.
4. Saeb, S., C. Weber, and J. Triesch, Goal-directed learning of features and forward models. Neural Networks, 2009. 22(5-6): p. 586-592.

Keywords: computational neuroscience

Conference: Bernstein Conference on Computational Neuroscience, Berlin, Germany, 27 Sep - 1 Oct, 2010.

Presentation Type: Presentation

Topic: Bernstein Conference on Computational Neuroscience

Citation: Kleesiek J, Engel AK, Wermter S and Weber C (2010). Object Affordances in the Context of Sensory Motor Contingencies. Front. Comput. Neurosci. Conference Abstract: Bernstein Conference on Computational Neuroscience. doi: 10.3389/conf.fncom.2010.51.00071

Copyright: The abstracts in this collection have not been subject to any Frontiers peer review or checks, and are not endorsed by Frontiers. They are made available through the Frontiers publishing platform as a service to conference organizers and presenters.

The copyright in the individual abstracts is owned by the author of each abstract or his/her employer unless otherwise stated.

Each abstract, as well as the collection of abstracts, are published under a Creative Commons CC-BY 4.0 (attribution) licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) and may thus be reproduced, translated, adapted and be the subject of derivative works provided the authors and Frontiers are attributed.

For Frontiers’ terms and conditions please see https://www.frontiersin.org/legal/terms-and-conditions.

Received: 15 Sep 2010; Published Online: 23 Sep 2010.

* Correspondence: Dr. Jens Kleesiek, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Dept. of Neurophysiology and Pathophysiology, Hamburg, Germany, j.kleesiek@uke.uni-hamburg.de