V. Infant development & Robotics

This workpackage will study how some of humans’ most basic feels, namely proprioception and the sensory modalities, develop starting from as soon as possible after birth. We will also sample — at age up to 2 years — some aspects of the feels underlying more complex notions, namely object and tool. Results will then be compared to work being done currently in developmental robotics.

As the foetus and subsequently the neonate develops, it must classify the sensory influx that it receives as constituting different feels: interoceptive or exteroceptive, or more finely, as being vestibular, proprioceptive, tactile, visual, etc. It must come to understand, both perceptually and motorically, that its body consists of limbs connected together in precise ways, thereby acquiring a feel of its self. It must come to perceive the world as populated with objects that it can act upon and possibly use as tools.

A first originality is that we will be using a longitudinal microgenetic analysis of individual infant behavior from the first days after birth up to age 2 years, in order to observe how they come to process the mass of sensorimotor flux that they receive.

A second, very important originality of the workpackage lies in the collaboration with workers in developmental robotics, with whom we will model the development of these feels using simulations and robotic implementations.