Distributed Action Selection by a Brainstem Neural Substrate: An Embodied Evaluation
Theoretical approaches to the problem of action selection in autonomous agents often contrast centralised and distributed selection schemes. Here we describe a neural substrate for distributed action selection in the vertebrate brain-stem, the medial reticular formation (mRF), which may form a evolutionary precursor to centralised schemes found in the higher brain. We evaluate its competence as a selection device for robot control in a simulated resource co-ordination task, and use a genetic algorithm to evolve the mRF’s inputs and internal structure. Some configurations of the mRF could sufficiently co-ordinate actions to maximise the robot’s energy, but this is critically dependent on a high rate of energy acquisition, which leaves an animal (or agent) susceptible to food shortages. Thus, the inflexibility of the mRF as a distributed selection mechanism may have provided impetus for the evolution of more complex, centralised, selection mechanisms in the brain.
KeywordsProjection Neuron Action Selection Anatomical Model Empirical Cumulative Distribution Function White Tile
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