Sensor Channels and Agent-World Circuits

What I found most interesting about Andy Clark’s piece “Re-Inventing Ourselves: The Plasticity of Embodiment, Sensing, and Mind” were his notions regarding how our senses enable us to connect to the world, and how we are able to unconsciously extend the perception of our body to encompass new possibilities for actions provided by “external resources.”

Sensors as Channels
Andy Clark describes our sensors as high-bandwidth channels that allow environmental factors to influence our behavior on a continuos basis. When we are performing a task we “open a channel” by tuning our focus to relevant sets of sensory resources. These high-bandwidth channels provide continuous streams of information that are used to guide our behavior. Clark uses the term “Agent-World Circuit” to refer to the agent-world couplings enabled by sensors channels.

This model of sensors as channels does a great job at describing the continuous process of feedback and adjustment that is at the core of DJ mixing. For a DJ to mix two different tracks they must tune in to their “auditory channel” and use the continuous stream of audio information to guide adjustments to the tempo of the tracks being mixed.

Extending Our Body Schema
The body schema refers to “a suite of neural settings that implicitly define a body in terms of its capabilities for action.” This part of our brain is extremely plastic, and can be trained and calibrated to integrate external resources into its definition of the “body”. According to Clark, our ability to extend the body schema is what makes us “profoundly embodied agents” rather than mere tool users.

One question that interests me related the concept of Body Schema, is how does this concept relate to the experience of flow.

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