Contingency perception and agency measure in visuo-motor spiking neural networks

Alexandre Pitti*, Hiroki Mori, Shingo Kouzuma, Yasuo Kuniyoshi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Agency is the sense that I am the cause or author of a movement. Babies develop early this feeling by perceiving the contingency between afferent (sensor) and efferent (motor) information. A comparator model is hypothesized to be associated with many brain regions to monitor and simulate the concordance between self-produced actions and their consequences. In this paper, we propose that the biological mechanism of spike timing-dependent plasticity, that synchronizes the neural dynamics almost everywhere in the central nervous system, constitutes the perfect algorithm to detect contingency in sensorimotor networks. The coherence or the dissonance in the sensorimotor information flow imparts then the agency level. In a head-neck-eyes robot, we replicate three developmental experiments illustrating how particular perceptual experiences can modulate the overall level of agency inside the system; i.e., 1) by adding a delay between proprioceptive and visual feedback information, 2) by facing a mirror, and 3) a person. We show that the system learns to discriminate animated objects (self-image and other persons) from other type of stimuli. This suggests a basic stage representing the self in relation to others from low-level sensorimotor processes. We discuss then the relevance of our findings with neurobiological evidences and development psychological observations for developmental robots.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4838935
Pages (from-to)86-97
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Autonomous Mental Development
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009 May
Externally publishedYes


  • Contingency detection
  • Self-agency
  • Sensorimotor integration
  • Spiking neural networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Artificial Intelligence


Dive into the research topics of 'Contingency perception and agency measure in visuo-motor spiking neural networks'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this