Development of hierarchical structures for actions and motor imagery: a constructivist view from synthetic neuro-robotics study

Psychol Res. 2009 Jul;73(4):545-58. doi: 10.1007/s00426-009-0236-0. Epub 2009 Apr 8.


The current paper shows a neuro-robotics experiment on developmental learning of goal-directed actions. The robot was trained to predict visuo-proprioceptive flow of achieving a set of goal-directed behaviors through iterative tutor training processes. The learning was conducted by employing a dynamic neural network model which is characterized by their multiple time-scale dynamics. The experimental results showed that functional hierarchical structures emerge through stages of developments where behavior primitives are generated in earlier stages and their sequences of achieving goals appear in later stages. It was also observed that motor imagery is generated in earlier stages compared to actual behaviors. Our claim that manipulatable inner representation should emerge through the sensory-motor interactions is corresponded to Piaget's constructivist view.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Imagination / physiology*
  • Kinesthesis / physiology
  • Man-Machine Systems
  • Neural Networks, Computer*
  • Orientation / physiology
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Proprioception / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Robotics*
  • Tool Use Behavior / physiology*