Advertisement

Animal Cognition

, 13:157 | Cite as

Encoding geometric and non-geometric information: a study with evolved agents

  • Michela PonticorvoEmail author
  • Orazio Miglino
Original Paper

Abstract

Vertebrate species use geometric information and non-geometric or featural cues to orient. Under some circumstances, when both geometric and non-geometric information are available, the geometric information overwhelms non-geometric cues (geometric primacy). In other cases, we observe the inverse tendency or the successful integration of both cues. In past years, modular explanations have been proposed for the geometric primacy: geometric and non-geometric information are processed separately, with the geometry module playing a dominant role. The modularity issue is related to the recent debate on the encoding of geometric information: is it innate or does it depend on environmental experience? In order to get insight into the mechanisms that cause the wide variety of behaviors observed in nature, we used Artificial Life experiments. We demonstrated that agents trained mainly with a single class of information oriented efficiently when they were exposed to one class of information (geometric or non-geometric). When they were tested in environments that contained both classes of information, they displayed a primacy for the information that they had experienced more during their training phase. Encoding and processing geometric and non-geometric information was run in a single cognitive neuro-representation. These findings represent a theoretical proof that the exposure frequency to different spatial information during a learning/adaptive history could produce agents with no modular neuro-cognitive systems that are able to process different types of spatial information and display various orientation behaviors (geometric primacy, non-geometric primacy, no primacy at all).

Keywords

Spatial orientation Geometric module Artificial agents 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Funding was provided by CNR in the framework of the programme “Cooperation in Corvids” (COCOR, which forms part of the ESF-EUROCORES programme “The Evolution of Cooperation and Trading” (TECT). We also would like to thank Nora Newcombe, Giorgio Vallortigara, Richard Walker and the anonymous referee for providing constructive comments and useful suggestions for improving the contents of this paper.

References

  1. Belew RK, Mitchell M (eds) (1996) Adaptive individuals in evolving populations: models and algorithms. Addison Wesley, ReadingGoogle Scholar
  2. Benhamou S, Poucet B (1998) Landmark use by navigating rats (Rattus Norvegicus): contrasting geometric and featural information. J Comp Psychol 112:317–322CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Berthouze L, Ziemke T (eds) (2003) Epigenetic robotics: modelling cognitive development in robotic systems. Special issue of Connection Science, 15(4)Google Scholar
  4. Bingman VP, Bagnoli P, Ioalè P, Casini G (1989) Behavioural and anatomical studies of the avian hippocampus. In: Chan-Palay V, Koehler C (eds) The hippocampus, new vistas, neurology and neurobiology, vol 52. Alan R. Liss, New York, pp 379–394Google Scholar
  5. Braithwaite VA, Armstrong JD, McAdam HM, Huntingford FA (1996) Can juvenile salmon use multiple cue systems in spatial learning? Anim Behav 51:1409–1415CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brown AA, Spetch ML, Hurd PL (2007) Growing in circles: rearing environment alter spatial navigation in fish. Psycholog Sci 18:569–573CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Carruthers P (2002) The cognitive functions of language. Behav Brain Sci 25:657–726PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Casini G, Fontanesi G, Bingman VP, Jones TJ, Gagliardo A, Ioalè P, Bagnoli P (1997) The neuroethology of cognitive maps: contributions from research on the hippocampus and homing pigeon navigation. Arch Ital Biol 135:73–92PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Cheng K (1986) A purely geometric module in the rat’s spatial representation. Cognition 23:149–178CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Cheng K (2008) Whither geometry? Troubles of the geometric module. Trends Cogn Sci 12(9):355–361CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Cheng K, Newcombe NS (2005) Is there a geometric module for spatial orientation? Squaring theory and evidence. Psychonom Bull Rev 12:1–23Google Scholar
  12. Cheung A, Stürzl W, Zeil J, Cheng K (2008) The information content of panoramic images II: view-based navigation in nonrectangular experimental arenas. J Exp Psychol Anim Behav Process 34(1):15–30CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Chiandetti C, Vallortigara G (2008) Is there an innate geometric module? Effects of experience with angular geometric cues on spatial re-orientation based on the shape of the environment. Anim Cogn 11:139–146CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Chiandetti C, Regolin L, Sovrano VA, Vallortigara G (2007) Spatial reorientation: the effects of space size on the encoding of landmark and geometry information. Anim Cogn 10:159–168CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Dittman AH, Quinn TP (1996) Homing in Pacific salmon: mechanisms and ecological basis. J Exp Biol 199:83–91PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Fodor JA (1983) The modularity of mind. An essay on Faculty Psychology. MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  17. Foster TC, Castro CA, McNaughton BL (1989) Spatial selectivity of rat hippocampal neurons: dependence on preparedness for movement. Science 244:1580–1582CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Gallistel CR (1989) Animal cognition: the representation of space, time and number. Annu Rev Psychol 40:155–189CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Gallistel CR (1990) The organization of learning. MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  20. Gavrilov V, Wiener SI, Berthoz A (1998) Discharge correlates of hippocampal complex spike neurons in behaving rats passively displaced on a mobile robot. Hippocampus 8:475–490CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Gouteux S, Spelke ES (2001) Children’s use of geometry and landmarks to reorient in an open space. Cognition 81:119–148CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Gouteux S, Thinus-Blanc C, Vauclair J (2001) Rhesus monkeys use geometric and nongeometric information during a reorientation task. J Exp Psychol Gen 130:505–509CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Gray ER, Bloomfield LL, Ferrey A, Spetch ML, Sturdy CB (2005) Spatial encoding in mountain chickadees: features overshadow geometry. Biol Lett 1:314–317CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Hermer L, Spelke ES (1996) Modularity and development: the case of spatial reorientation. Cognition 61:195–232CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Hermer-Vazquez L, Spelke E, Katsnelson A (1999) Sources of flexibility in human cognition: dual task studies of space and language. Cogn Psychol 39:3–36CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Hermer-Vazquez L, Moffet A, Munkholm P (2001) Language, space, and the development of cognitive flexibility in humans: the case of two spatial memory tasks. Cognition 79:263–299CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Hupbach A, Hardt O, Nadel L, Bohbot VD (2007) Spatial reorientation: effects of verbal and spatial shadowing. Spatial Cogn Comput 7(2):213–226Google Scholar
  28. Huttenlocher J, Lourenco SF (2007) Coding location in enclosed spaces: is geometry the principle? Dev Sci 10(6):741–746CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Huttenlocher J, Vasilyeva M (2003) How toddlers represent enclosed spaces. Cogn Sci 27(5):749–766CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kelly DM, Spetch ML, Heth CD (1998) Pigeons’ (Columbia livia) encoding of geometric and featural properties of a spatial environment. J Comp Psychol 112:259–269CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Langton CG (1995) Artificial life. MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  32. Learmonth AE, Newcombe NS, Huttenlocher J (2001) Toddlers’ use of metric information and landmarks to reorient. J Exp Child Psychol 80:225–244CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Learmonth AE, Nadel L, Newcombe NS (2002) Children’s use of landmarks: implications for modularity theory. Psycholog Sci 13:337–341CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Margules J, Gallistel CR (1988) Heading in the rat: determination by environmental shape. Anim Learn Behav 16:404–410Google Scholar
  35. Mazmanian DS, Roberts WA (1983) Spatial memory in rats under restricted conditions. Learn Motiv 14:123–139CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Miglino O, Walker R (2002) Genetic redundancy in evolving populations of simulated robots. Artif life 8–3:265–277CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Miller NY, Shettleworth SJ (2007) Learning about environmental geometry: an associative model. J Exp Psychol Anim Behav Process 33:191–212CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Newcombe N (2002) The nativist-empiricist controversy in the context of recent research on spatial and quantitative development. Psycholog Sci 13:395–401CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Newcombe NS, Huttenlocher J (2006) Development of spatial cognition. In: Damon W, Lerner R (series eds) Kuhn D, Seigler R (eds) Handbook of child psychology: cognition, perception and language (6th edn, vol 2). Wiley, Hoboken, pp 734–776Google Scholar
  40. Newcombe NS, Ratliff K (2007) Explaining the development of spatial reorientation: modularity-plus language versus the emergence of adaptive combination. In: Plumert J, Spencer J (eds) The emerging spatial mind. Oxford University Press, New York, pp 53–76Google Scholar
  41. Nolfi S (2000) Evorobot 1.1 User Manual. Institute of Psychology, CNR, RomeGoogle Scholar
  42. Ratliff KR, Newcombe NS (2008a) Is language necessary for human spatial reorientation? Reconsidering evidence from dual task paradigms. Cogn Psychol 56:142–163CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Ratliff KR, Newcombe NS (2008b) Reorienting when cues conflict: using geometry and features following landmark displacement. Psycholog Sci 19:1301–1307CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sovrano VA, Vallortigara G (2006) Dissecting the geometric module: a sense-linkage for metric and landmark information in animals » spatial reorientation. Psycholog Sci 17–7Google Scholar
  45. Sovrano VA, Bisazza A, Vallortigara G (2002) Modularity and spatial reorientation in a simple mind: encoding of geometric and non-geometric properties of spatial environment by fish. Cognition 85:51–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sovrano VA, Bisazza A, Vallortigara G (2003) Modularity as a fish (Xenotoca eiseni) views it: conjoining geometric and nongeometric information for spatial reorientation. J Exp Psychol Anim Behav Process 29:199–210CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. Sovrano VA, Bisazza A, Vallortigara G (2005) Animals’ use of landmarks and metric information to reorient: effects of the size of the experimental space. Cognition 97:122–133CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Sovrano VA, Bisazza A, Vallortigara G (2007) How fish do geometry in large and in small spaces. Anim Cogn 10:47–58CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. Suzuki S, Augerinos G, Black AH (1980) Stimulus control of spatial behaviour on the eight-arm maze in rats. Learn Motiv 11:1–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Teuber H-L (1955) Physiological psychology. Annu Rev Psychol 9:267–296CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Tommasi L, Vallortigara G (2000) Searching for the center: spatial cognition in the domestic chick. J Exp Psychol Anim Behav Proc 26:477–486CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Vallortigara G, Sovrano VA (2002) Conjoining information from different modules: a comparative perspective. Behav Brain Sci 25:701–702CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Vallortigara G, Zanforlin M, Pasti G (1990) Geometric modules in animal spatial representations: a test with chicks (Gallus gallus). J Comp Psychol 104:248–254CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  54. Vallortigara G, Feruglio M, Sovrano VA (2005) Reorientation by geometric and landmark information in environments of different spatial scale. Developmental Science 5(8):393–401CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Vallortigara G, Sovrano VA, Chiandetti C (2009) Doing Socrates experiment right: controller rearing studies of geometrical knowledge in animals. Curr Opin Neurobiol 19:1–7 available online 18 March 2009CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Wall PL, Botly LCP, Black CK, Shettleworth SJ (2004) The geometric module in the rat: independence of shape and feature learning in a food finding task. Learn Behav 32(3):289–298PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Artificial and Natural Cognition, Department of Relational SciencesUniversity of Naples “Federico II”NaplesItaly
  2. 2.Laboratory of Artificial Life and Autonomous RoboticsInstitute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies, National Research CouncilRomeItaly

Personalised recommendations