Comparison of motor-based versus visual sensory representations in object recognition tasks



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Texas A&M University


Various works have demonstrated the usage of action as a critical component in allowing autonomous agents to learn about objects in the environment. The importance of memory becomes evident when these agents try to learn about complex objects. This necessity primarily stems from the fact that simpler agents behave reactively to stimuli in their attempt to learn about the nature of the object. However, complex objects have the property of giving rise to temporally varying sensory data as the agent interacts with the object. Therefore, reactive behavior becomes a hindrance in learning these complex objects, thus, prompting the need for memory. A straightforward approach to memory, visual memory, is where sensory data is directly represented. Another mechanism is skill-based memory or habit formation. In the latter mechanism the sequence of actions performed for a task is retained. The main hypothesis of this thesis is that since action seems to play an important role in simple perceptual understanding it may also serve as a good memory representation. In order to test this hypothesis a series of comparative tests were carried out to determine the merits of each of these representations. It turns out that skill memory performs significantly better at recognition tasks than visual memory. Furthermore, it was demonstrated in a related experiment that action forms a good intermediate representation of the sensory data. This provides support to theories that propose that various sensory modalities can ideally be represented in terms of action. This thesis successfully extends action to the role of understanding of complex objects.