Cognitive swarming in complex environments with attractor dynamics and oscillatory computing

Joseph D. Monaco, Grace M. Hwang, Kevin M. Schultz, Kechen Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Neurobiological theories of spatial cognition developed with respect to recording data from relatively small and/or simplistic environments compared to animals’ natural habitats. It has been unclear how to extend theoretical models to large or complex spaces. Complementarily, in autonomous systems technology, applications have been growing for distributed control methods that scale to large numbers of low-footprint mobile platforms. Animals and many-robot groups must solve common problems of navigating complex and uncertain environments. Here, we introduce the NeuroSwarms control framework to investigate whether adaptive, autonomous swarm control of minimal artificial agents can be achieved by direct analogy to neural circuits of rodent spatial cognition. NeuroSwarms analogizes agents to neurons and swarming groups to recurrent networks. We implemented neuron-like agent interactions in which mutually visible agents operate as if they were reciprocally connected place cells in an attractor network. We attributed a phase state to agents to enable patterns of oscillatory synchronization similar to hippocampal models of theta-rhythmic (5–12 Hz) sequence generation. We demonstrate that multi-agent swarming and reward-approach dynamics can be expressed as a mobile form of Hebbian learning and that NeuroSwarms supports a single-entity paradigm that directly informs theoretical models of animal cognition. We present emergent behaviors including phase-organized rings and trajectory sequences that interact with environmental cues and geometry in large, fragmented mazes. Thus, NeuroSwarms is a model artificial spatial system that integrates autonomous control and theoretical neuroscience to potentially uncover common principles to advance both domains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-284
Number of pages16
JournalBiological Cybernetics
Volume114
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020

Keywords

  • Emergence
  • Multi-robot groups
  • Oscillations
  • Place cells
  • Spatial navigation
  • Swarming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Computer Science(all)

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