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Embodied Skillful Performance: Where the Action Is

Hipolito, Ines and Baltieri, Manuel and Friston J, Karl and Ramstead, Maxwell J. D. (2020) Embodied Skillful Performance: Where the Action Is. [Preprint]

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When someone masters a skill, their performance looks to us like second nature: it looks as if their actions are performed smoothly without explicit, knowledge-driven, online monitoring of their performance. Contemporary computational models in motor control theory, however, are instructionist. That is, they cast skilful performance as a knowledge-driven process, one that is driven by explicit motor representations of the action to be performed skillfully, which harness instructions for performance. Optimal control theory, a popular representative of such approaches, casts skillful performance as the execution of motor commands, the deliverances of a motor control system implemented by separable forward and inverse models that work in tandem with a state estimator to control the motor plant. These models rest on the principle that motor control is realized by the concerted action of separate modular subsystems, which transform an explicit motor representation into a sequence of physical movements. This paper aims to show the limitations of such instructionist approaches to skillful performance. Specifically, we address whether the assumption of modular knowledge-driven motor control in optimal control theory (based on motor commands computed by separable state estimators, forward models, and inverse models) is warranted. The first section of this paper examines the instructionist assumption, according to which skillful performance consists in the execution of instructions invested in motor representations. The second and third sections characterize the implementation of motor representations as motor commands, with a special focus on formulations from optimal control theory. The final sections of this paper examine predictive coding and active inference – behavioral modeling frameworks that descend, but are distinct, from optimal control theory – and argue that the instructionist assumption is ill-motivated in light of new developments in motor control theory, which cast motor control and motor planning as a form of (active) inference.

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Item Type: Preprint
Friston J,
Ramstead, Maxwell J. D.maxwell.d.ramstead@gmail.com0000-0002-1477-8177
Keywords: Optimal control theory, instructionism, motor representation, action-oriented representation, active inference, skillful performance
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Neuroscience > Cognitive Neuroscience
Depositing User: Ines Hipolito
Date Deposited: 19 Sep 2020 21:29
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2020 21:29
Item ID: 18121
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Neuroscience > Cognitive Neuroscience
Date: 2020

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