DHB Collaborative: Lifespan Dynamics of Cognition and Action

  • Lorch, Robert (PI)
  • Gottlob, Lawrence (Former PI)

Grants and Contracts Details


To behave adaptively, autonomous living beings must coordinate body and mind. Recent findings provide strong evidence that such coordination entails interactiondominant dynamics, interactions among component processes change each other's dynamics in their interaction. Such interaction-dominant dynamics are the coordinative dynamics of systems that self-organize their behavior. Their predicted fractal pattern of variation in behavior has been observed in many cognitive and motor experiments. However, despite these empirical and theoretical advances, important questions remain. First, is the direction of control exclusively brain to body? In other words, does the coordination of motor components change the coordination of cognitive components? Motor acts are commonly treated as consequent on or independent of cognitive activity (e.g., cognition proceeds apace, whether one sits or walks). But interaction-dominant dynamics, in principle, allow the coordination of motor behavior to impact cognitive dynamics. Second, how do control and coordination of cognitive dynamics change across the lifespan? The dynamics of motor coordination has a linear progression, in which fractal patterns change from a greater fractal dimension in childhood to a lesser fractal dimension in old age. Does the same hold for cognitive tasks? For instance, it is unclear whether cognitive coordination deteriorates with age. The proposed studies substantially bridge this knowledge gap as they investigate control and coordination of cognitive and motor behavior across the life span. Intellectual Merits. The empirical studies will contribute to two distinct areas. First, findings of interdependence of motor and cognitive components may overhaul the common view that cognition unfolds independently of the motor actions of the body. While the idea of embodied cognition is not new, the current study may provide a more solid basis for this theory. And second, findings on how control and coordination of cognitive activity changes as a function of age will broadly inform developmental theory, including theory that links behavioral changes to cortical organization in a child's or adult's brain. Broader Impacts. The proposed project includes the development of a non-linear method of recurrence quantification analysis as a tool for fractal analysis, which may circumvent problems of linear tools, supply a more detailed picture of fractal behavior, and add methodological rigor to the study of fractal phenomena in all fields that confront such phenomena. Furthermore, support for this proposal will contribute catalytic funds to fully realize a planned interdisciplinary center for Cognition, Action & Perception at the U. of Cincinnati.
Effective start/end date1/15/0812/31/11


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