A satisficing and bricoleur approach to sensorimotor cognition

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In this manuscript I present a set of neural processing principles and evolutionary constraints that should be taken into account in the characterization of sensorimotor cognition. I review evidence supporting the choice of the set of principles, and then I assess how such principles apply to two cases, object perception-action and peripersonal space. The aim is to emphasize the importance of focusing cognitive models on how evolution shapes functional paths to adaptations, as well as to adopt fitness maximization analyses of cognitive functions. Such an approach contrasts with the widespread reverse-engineering assumption that the neural system comprises a set of specialized circuits designed to comply with its assumed functions. The evidence presented in the manuscript points to the fact that neural systems should not be seen as a seat of optimal processes and circuits addressing particular problems in sensorimotor cognition, but as a set of satisficing and tinkered components, mostly not addressing the problems that are supposed to solve, but solving them as secondary effects of the engaged processes. I conclude with a corollary of the challenges lying ahead of the proposed approach. © 2012 Elsevier Ireland Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-73
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2012


  • Cognitive representation
  • Enactivism
  • Evolutionary psychology
  • Extended cognition
  • Neural processing models
  • Optimality models
  • Sensorimotor cognition
  • Situated cognition

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