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Is there an integrative center in the vertebrate brain-stem? A robotic evaluation of a model of the reticular formation viewed as an action selection device

By M.D. Humphries, K. Gurney and T.J. Prescott


Neurobehavioral data from intact, decerebrate, and neonatal rats, suggests that the reticular formation provides\ud a brainstem substrate for action selection in the vertebrate central nervous system. In this article, Kilmer,\ud McCulloch and Blum’s (1969, 1997) landmark reticular formation model is described and re-evaluated, both in\ud simulation and, for the first time, as a mobile robot controller. Particular model configurations are found to\ud provide effective action selection mechanisms in a robot survival task using either simulated or physical robots.\ud The model’s competence is dependent on the organization of afferents from model sensory systems, and a genetic\ud algorithm search identified a class of afferent configurations which have long survival times. The results support\ud our proposal that the reticular formation evolved to provide effective arbitration between innate behaviors\ud and, with the forebrain basal ganglia, may constitute the integrative, ’centrencephalic’ core of vertebrate brain\ud architecture. Additionally, the results demonstrate that the Kilmer et al. model provides an alternative form of\ud robot controller to those usually considered in the adaptive behavior literature

Year: 2005
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