Cognitive Offloading Does Not Prevent but Rather Promotes Cognitive Development

We investigate the relation between the development of reactive and cognitive capabilities. In particular we investigate whether the development of reactive capabilities prevents or promotes the development of cognitive capabilities in a population of evolving robots that have to solve a time-delay navigation task in a double T-Maze environment. Analysis of the experiments reveals that the evolving robots always select reactive strategies that rely on cognitive offloading, i.e., the possibility of acting so as to encode onto the relation between the agent and the environment the states that can be used later to regulate the agent’s behavior. The discovery of these strategies does not prevent, but rather facilitates, the development of cognitive strategies that also rely on the extraction and use of internal states. Detailed analysis of the results obtained in the different experimental conditions provides evidence that helps clarify why, contrary to expectations, reactive and cognitive strategies tend to have synergetic relationships.


Carvalho JT, Nolfi S (2016) Cognitive Offloading Does Not Prevent but Rather Promotes Cognitive Development. PLoS ONE 11(8): e0160679. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0160679