This article proposes a theoretical reflection on the conditions for the constitution of a distinction between the self and the world by a cognitive system. The main hypothesis is the following: proprioception, as a sensory system that is habitually dedicated essentially to experience of the body, is conceived here as a coupling which is necessary for the dual and concomitant constitution of a bodily self and of a distal perceptual field. After recalling the singular characteristics of proprioceptive coupling, three lines of thought are developed. The first, which is notably inspired by research on sensory substitution, aims at emphasizing the indispensable role of action in the context of such perceptual learning. In a second part, this hypothesis is tested against opposing arguments. In particular, we shall discuss, in the context of what Braitenberg called a synthetic psychology, the emergence of oriented behaviors in simple robots that can be regulated by sensory regulations which are strictly external, since these robots do not have any form of "proprioception." In the same vein, this part also provides the opportunity to discuss the argument concerning a bijective relation between action and proprioception; it has been argued by others that because of this strict bijection it is not possible for proprioception to be the basis for the constitution of an exteriority. The third part, which is more prospective, suggests that it is important to take the measure of the phylogenetic history of this exteriority, starting from unicellular organisms. Taking into account the literature which attests the existence of proprioception even amongst the most elementary living organisms, this leads us to propose that the coupling of proprioception to action is very primitive, and that the role we propose for it in the co-constitution of an exteriority and self is probably already at work in the simplest living organisms.
The effect of concurrent visual feedback on the implicit learning of repeated segments in a task of pursuit tracking has been tested. Although this feedback makes it possible to regulate the positional error during the movement, it could also induce negative guidance effects. To test this hypothesis, a first set of participants (N=42) were assigned to two groups, which performed either the standard pursuit-tracking task based on the experimental paradigm of Pew ( 1974 ; group F-ST), or a task called "movement reproduction" in which the feedback was suppressed (group noF-ST). A second set of participants (N=26) performed in the same feedback condition groups but in a dual-task situation (F-DT and noF-DT; Experiment 2). The results appear to confirm our predictions since the participants in groups without feedback, contrary to those in groups with feedback, succeeded with practice in differentiating their performances as a function of the nature of the segments (repeated or nonrepeated) both in simple (Experiment 1) and in dual-task (Experiment 2) situations. These experiments indicate that the feedback in the pursuit-tracking task induces a guidance function potentially resulting in an easiness tracking that prevents the participants from learning the repetition.
Assessing implicit learning in the continuous pursuit-tracking task usually concerns a repeated segment of target displacements masked by two random segments, as referred to as Pews paradigm. Evidence for segment learning in this paradigm is scanty and contrasts with robust sequence learning in discrete tracking tasks. The present study investigates this issue with two experiments in which participants (N = 56) performed a continuous tracking task. Contrary to Pews paradigm, participants were presented with a training sequence that was continuously cycled during 14 blocks of practice, but Block 12 in which a transfer sequence was introduced. Results demonstrate sequence learning in several conditions except in the condition that was obviously the most similar to previous studies failing to induce segment learning. Specifically, it is shown here that a target moving too slowly combined with variable time at which target reversal occurs prevents sequence learning. In addition, data from a post-experimental recognition test indicate that sequence learning was associated with explicit perceptual knowledge about the repetitive structure. We propose that learning repetition in a continuous tracking task is conditional on its capacity to (1) allow participants to detect the repeated regularities and (2) restrict feedback-based tracking strategies.
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