Abstract: Back in our watery days as fish, we lived in a medium that was inherently unfriendly to seeing things very far away. The technical way this is measured is the "attenuation length" of light through the medium. After light travels the attenuation length through a medium, about 63% of the light is blocked. The attenuation length of light in water is on the order of tens of meters. For a beast of a meter or two in length, which moves at a rate of about a body length or two per second, that's a pretty short horizon of time and space. In just a few seconds, you'll reach the edge of where you were able to see. If you're down in the depths at all, or in less clear water, you may reach the edge of your perceptual horizon in about a second. In this talk, I'll explore the quantification of sensory and motor spaces, developed through our work on the weakly electric fish, a popular model system of sensory neurobiology. I discuss the relationship between behavioral control and the relative size of these spaces. Finally, I'll discuss whether emergence on to land, where the attenuation length of light is essentially infinite, may have been a key step in producing favorable conditions for the evolution of the ability to plan over multiple possible futures.
Why Did Consciousness Evolve, and How Can We Modify It? http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/sciencenotfiction/2011/03/14/why-did-consciousness-evolve-and-how-can-we-modify-it/
Neuroethology From Morphological Computation to Planning
Omnidirectional Sensory and Motor Volumes in Electric Fish