IC21 – Towards Learning Compositional Conceptual Structures from Sensorimotor Experiences

Evening lecture sponsered by the German Cognitive Science Society.

Lecturer: Martin Butz
Fields: Cognitive Science


Our minds learn conceptual structures from sensorimotor experiences. We intuitively know how objects behave based on physics. We perceive things as entities with particular distinctive properties, and other animals and humans as agentive. Meanwhile, we become able to recombine these conceptual structures in compositional meaningful manners. This ability allows us to plan, reason, and (partially) solve problems, which we had never encountered before. Cognitive science still searches for an explanation on how humans learn such compositional conceptual structures from sensorimotor-based experiences.

In this talk, I provide evidence and own research insights that suggest that our brains have the tendency to develop event-predictive, generative models from the encountered sensorimotor experiences, actively exploring them to foster further development. Interestingly, these models may have also set the stage for language development and thus for the generation of even more abstract cognitive abilities.


Prof. Martin Butz

Martin Butz is Professor for Cognitive Modeling at the University of Tübingen since 2011. He has studied computer science and psychology at Würzburg University from 1995-2001. In 2004 he finished his PhD in computer science with a focus on rule-based evolutionary online learning systems at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL. Since the very beginning of his research career, he has collaborated with psychologists, neuroscientists, machine learners, and roboticists and has attempted to integrate their respective disciplinary perspectives into an overarching theory on the mind, cognition, and behavior.

Affiliation: University of Tübingen