Bodies that think and feel, perceive and act

Barry Smith

The brain depends on the body’s organs physically, it needs nutrients and oxygen to maintain homeostasis, but beyond that, intricate layout of the body, its organs and sensors play a role in our cognitive and emotional lives. The brain and body are tightly coupled. The brain monitors and responds to the functioning of the vital organs ‑ the changing rhythm of the heart, the slow wave of the stomach – keeping track of subtle changes in the internal as well as the external milleu. Human emotions are highly dependent on these brain-body connections. In addition, the brain is constantly bombarded by sensory signals from a variety of receptor types that shape our multisensory experience of the world and ourselves. Our brains integrate myriad sensory signals to figure out and predict what is happening in our immediate surroundings. This is necessary to guide behavior and ensure reward. Many of these multisensory interactions depend on the precise architecture of the body and location of the sensory sites. The biggest challenge to replace bodies with VR or robotics is how to accommodate the emotions and the chemical senses that modulate our conscious lives.