Multifunctionality in embodied agents: Three levels of neural reuse

AbstractThe brain in conjunction with the body is able to adapt to new environments and perform multiple behaviors through reuse of neural resources and transfer of existing behavioral traits. Although mechanisms that underlie this ability are not well understood, they are largely attributed to neuromodulation. In this work, we demonstrate that an agent can be multifunctional using the same sensory and motor systems across behaviors, in the absence of modulatory mechanisms. Further, we lay out the different levels at which neural reuse can occur through a dynamical filtering of the brain-body-environment system's operation: structural network, autonomous dynamics, and transient dynamics. Notably, transient dynamics reuse could only be explained by studying the brain-body-environment system as a whole and not just the brain. The multifunctional agent we present here demonstrates neural reuse at all three levels

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