The same neural structures involved in the unconscious modeling of our acting body in space also contribute to our awareness of the lived body and of the objects that the world contains. Neuroscientific research also shows that there are neural mechanisms mediating between the multi-level personal experience we entertain of our lived body, and the implicit certainties we simultaneously hold about others. Such personal and body-related experiential knowledge enables us to understand the actions performed by others, and to directly decode (...) the emotions and sensations they experience. A common functional mechanism is at the basis of both body awareness and basic forms of social understanding: embodiedsimulation. It will be shown that the present proposal is consistent with some of the perspectives offered by phenomenology. (shrink)
Simulation theories of social cognition abound in the literature, but it is often unclear what simulation means and how it works. The discovery of mirror neurons, responding both to action execution and observation, suggested an embodied approach to mental simulation. Over the last years this approach has been hotly debated and alternative accounts have been proposed. We discuss these accounts and argue that they fail to capture the uniqueness of embodiedsimulation (ES). ES theory (...) provides a unitary account of basic social cognition, demonstrating that people e their own mental states or processes represented with a bodily format in functionally attributing them to others. (shrink)
de Bruin & Gallagher suggest that the view of embodiedsimulation put forward in our recent article lacks explanatory power. We argue that the notion of reuse of mental states represented with a bodily format provides a convincing simulational account of the mirroring mechanism and its role in mind -reading.
Recent application of theories of embodied or grounded cognition to the recognition and interpretation of facial expression of emotion has led to an explosion of research in psychology and the neurosciences. However, despite the accelerating number of reported findings, it remains unclear how the many component processes of emotion and their neural mechanisms actually support embodiedsimulation. Equally unclear is what triggers the use of embodiedsimulation versus perceptual or conceptual strategies in determining meaning. The (...) present article integrates behavioral research from social psychology with recent research in neurosciences in order to provide coherence to the extant and future research on this topic. The roles of several of the brain's reward systems, and the amygdala, somatosensory cortices, and motor centers are examined. These are then linked to behavioral and brain research on facial mimicry and eye gaze. Articulation of the mediators and moderators of facial mimicry and gaze are particularly useful in guiding interpretation of relevant findings from neurosciences. Finally, a model of the processing of the smile, the most complex of the facial expressions, is presented as a means to illustrate how to advance the application of theories of embodied cognition in the study of facial expression of emotion. (shrink)
The SIMS model claims that it is by means of an embodiedsimulation that we determine the meaning of an observed smile. This suggests that crucial interpretative work is done in the mapping that takes us from a perceived smile to the activation of one's own facial musculature. How is this mapping achieved? Might it depend upon a prior interpretation arrived at on the basis of perceptual and contextual information?
Social cognition is the capacity to understand and interact with others. The mainstream account of social cognition is mindreading, the view that we humans understanding others by interpreting their behavior in terms of mental states. Recently theorists from philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience have challenged the mindreading account, arguing for a more deflationary account of social cognition. In this paper I examine a deflationary account of social cognition, embodiedsimulation, which is inspired by recent neuroscientific findings. I argue that (...)embodiedsimulation fails to present an adequate alternative to mindreading accounts of social cognition. I defend a philosophically and empirically plausible two-systems account of social cognition, which holds that even very young children are capable of mindreading. (shrink)
Embodiedsimulation and the epistemic motivation to search for the of other people's behaviors are not necessary for specific and functional responding to, and hence processing of, human facial expressions. Rather, facial expression processing can be achieved through lower-cognitive, heuristical perceptual processing and expression of prototypical morphological musculature movement patterns that communicate discrete trustworthiness and capacity cues to conspecifics.
Recent discoveries in neuroscience, among which that of mirror neurons ,have strongly influenced the debate on spatial cognition, action, emotion andempathy, all aspects that in recent years have been deeply reconsidered within film studies. This article focuses on the role embodiedsimulation theory—triggered by the discovery of MNs—plays in film experience. ES has beenproposed to constitute a basic functional mechanism of humans’ brain.Because of a shared bodily representational format, we map the actions of others onto our own motor (...) representations, as well as others’ emotions and sensations onto our own viscero-motor and sensory-motor representations. We wonder how relevant this mechanism is in our film experience reconsidering both classical and recent theories that to some extent have foreshadowed ES, and testing our hypotheses through the stylistic analysis of two sequences from Hitchcock’s Notorious and Antonioni’s Il grido. (shrink)
Bullot & Reber (B&R) correctly include historical perspectives into the scientific study of art appreciation. But artistic understanding always emerges from embodiedsimulation processes that incorporate the ongoing dynamics of brains, bodies, and world interactions. There may not be separate modes of artistic understanding, but a continuum of processes that provide imaginative simulations of the artworks we see or hear.
A complete model of smile interpretation needs to incorporate its social context. We argue that embodiedsimulation is an unlikely route for understanding dominance smiles, which typically occur in the context of power. We support this argument by discussing the lack of eye contact with dominant faces and the facial and postural complementarity, rather than mimicry, that pervades hierarchical relationships.
Cognitive theories of metaphor understanding are typically described in terms of the mappings between different kinds of abstract, schematic, disembodied knowledge. My claim in this paper is that part of our ability to make sense of metaphorical language, both individual utterances and extended narratives, resides in the automatic construction of a simulation whereby we imagine performing the bodily actions referred to in the language. Thus, understanding metaphorical expressions like ‘grasp a concept’ or ‘get over’ an emotion involve simulating what (...) it must be like to engage in these specific activities, even though these actions are, strictly speaking, impossible to physically perform. This process of building a simulation, one that is fundamentally embodied in being constrained by past and present bodily experiences, has specific consequences for how verbal metaphors are understood, and how cognitive scientists, more generally, characterize the nature of metaphorical language and thought. (shrink)
The aim of the present article is three-fold. First, it aims to show that perception requires action. This is most evident for some types of visual percept . Second, it aims to show that the distinction of the cortical visual processing into two streams is insufficient and leads to possible misunderstandings on the true nature of perceptual processes. Third, it aims to show that the dorsal stream is not only responsible for the unconscious control of action, but also for the (...) conscious awareness of space and action. (shrink)
Crucial in Girard's Mimetic Theory is the notion of mimetic desire, viewed as appropriative mimicry, the main source of aggressiveness and violence characterizing our species. The intrinsic value of the objects of our desire is not as relevant as the fact that the very same objects are the targets of others' desire. One could in principle object against such apparently negative and one-sided view of mankind, in general, and of mimesis, in particular. However, such argument would misrepresent Girard's thought. Girard (...) himself acknowledged that mimetic desire is also good in itself, because is at the basis of love, and even more importantly because it's the opening out of oneself. Starting from the notion of desire as openness to others I will discuss from a neuroscientific perspective the implications for social cognition of mimesis against the background of Girard's Mimetic Theory, an ideal starting framework to foster a multidisciplinary approach to the study of human intersubjectivity. It will be posited that a different, not mutually exclusive, account of mimesis leads to social identification henceforth to sociality. Mimesis is neither good or bad, but has the potentials to lead not only to mimetic violence but also to the most creative aspects of human cognition. Results of empirical research in neuroscience and developmental psychology show that such account of mimesis finds solid supporting evidence. It will be concluded that a thorough and biologically plausible account of human intersubjectivity requires the integration of both sides of mimesis. (shrink)
We outline three possible shortcomings of the SIMS model and specify these by applying the model to autism. First, the SIMS model assigns a causal role to brain processes, thereby excluding individual and situational factors. Second, there is no room for subjective and high-level conceptual processes in the model. Third, disentangling the different stages in the model is very difficult.
A central finding in experimental research identified with Embodied Cognition (EC) is that understanding actions involves their embodiedsimulation, i.e. executing some processes involved in performing these actions. Extending these findings, I argue that reenactment – the overt embodiedsimulation of actions and practices, including especially communicative actions and practices, within utterances – makes it possible to forge an integrated EC-based account of linguistic meaning. In particular, I argue: (a) that remote entities can be referred (...) to by reenacting actions performed with them; (b) that the use of grammatical constructions can be conceived of as the reenactment of linguistic action routines; (c) that complex enunciational structures (reported speech, irony, etc.) involve a separate level of reenactment, on which characters are presented as interacting with one another within the utterance; (d) that the segmentation of long utterances into shorter units involves the reenactment of brief audience interventions between units; and (e) that the overall meaning of an utterance can be stated in reenactment terms. The notion of reenactment provides a conceptual framework for accounting for aspects of language that are usually thought to be outside the reach of EC in an EC framework, thus supporting a view of meaning and linguistic content as thoroughly grounded in action and interaction. (shrink)
Previous studies have shown that object properties are processed faster when they follow properties from the same perceptual modality than properties from different modalities. These findings suggest that language activates sensorimotor processes, which, according to those studies, can only be explained by a modal account of cognition. The current paper shows how a statistical linguistic approach of word co-occurrences can also reliably predict the category of perceptual modality a word belongs to (auditory, olfactory–gustatory, visual–haptic), even though the statistical linguistic approach (...) is less precise than the modal approach (auditory, gustatory, haptic, olfactory, visual). Moreover, the statistical linguistic approach is compared with the modal embodied approach in an experiment in which participants verify properties that share or shift modalities. Response times suggest that fast responses can best be explained by the linguistic account, whereas slower responses can best be explained by the embodied account. These results provide further evidence for the theory that conceptual processing is both linguistic and embodied, whereby less precise linguistic processes precede precise simulation processes. (shrink)
Recently, there has been a great deal of interest in the idea that natural language enhances and extends our cognitive capabilities. Supporters of embodied cognition have been particularly interested in the way in which language may provide a solution to the problem of abstract concepts. Toward this end, some have emphasized the way in which language may act as form of cognitive scaffolding and others have emphasized the potential importance of language-based distributional information. This essay defends a version of (...) the cognitive enhancement thesis that integrates and builds on both of these proposals. I argue that the embodied representations associated with language processing serve as a supplementary medium for conceptual processing. The acquisition of a natural language provides a means of extending our cognitive reach by giving us access to an internalized combinatorial symbol system that augments and supports the context-sensitive embodied representational systems that exist independently of language. (shrink)
Fred Adams : 619–628, 2010) criticizes the theory of embodied cognition which holds that conceptual and linguistic thought is grounded in the brain’s perceptual and sensorimotor systems. Among other things, Adams claims that: EC is potentially committed to an implausible criterion of sentence meaningfulness; EC lacks claimed advantages over rival accounts of conceptual thought; relevant experimental data do not show constitutive, but only causal, involvement of perception in conception; and EC cannot account for the comprehension of abstract concepts. I (...) respond to Adams that: EC is not committed to an implausible criterion of meaningfulness, though it may be committed to holding that comprehension admits of degrees; EC does have its claimed advantages over rival views; the data do make a strong case for constitutive involvement and a broad and comprehensive EC approach probably can account for the comprehension of abstract concepts. (shrink)
According to embodied cognition, the philosophical and empirical literature on theory of mind is misguided. Embodied cognition rejects the idea that social cognition requires theory of mind. It regards the intramural debate between the Theory Theory and the Simulation Theory as irrelevant, and it dismisses the empirical studies on theory of mind as ill conceived and misleading. Embodied cognition provides a novel deflationary account of social cognition that does not depend on theory of mind. In this (...) chapter, l describe embodied cognition’s alternative to theory of mind and discuss three challenges it faces. (shrink)
Theories of embodied cognition hold that the conceptual system uses perceptual simulations for the purposes of representation. A strong prediction is that perceptual phenomena should emerge in conceptual processing, and, in support, previous research has shown that switching modalities from one trial to the next incurs a processing cost during conceptual tasks. However, to date, such research has been limited by its reliance on the retrieval of familiar concepts. We therefore examined concept creation by asking participants to interpret modality-specific (...) compound phrases (i.e., conceptual combinations). Results show that modality switching costs emerge during the creation of new conceptual entities: People are slower to simulate a novel concept (e.g., auditory jingling onion) when their attention has already been engaged by a different modality in simulating a familiar concept (e.g., visual shiny penny). Furthermore, these costs cannot be accounted for by linguistic factors alone. Rather, our findings support the embodied view that concept creation, as well as retrieval, requires situated perceptual simulation. (shrink)
The extended mind hypothesis (Clark and Chalmers in Analysis 58(1):7–19, 1998; Clark 2008) is an influential hypothesis in philosophy of mind and cognitive science. I argue that the extended mind hypothesis is born to be wild. It has undeniable and irrepressible tendencies of flouting grounding assumptions of the traditional information-processing paradigm. I present case-studies from social cognition which not only support the extended mind proposal but also bring out its inherent wildness. In particular, I focus on cases of action-understanding and (...) discuss the role of embodied intentionality in the extended mind project. I discuss two theories of action-understanding for exploring the support for the extended mind hypothesis in embodied intersubjective interaction, namely, simulation theory and a non-simulationist perceptual account. I argue that, if the extended mind adopts a simulation theory of action-understanding, it rejects representationalism. If it adopts a non-simulationist perceptual account of action-understanding, it rejects the classical sandwich view of the mind. (shrink)
It is often claimed that the discovery of mirror neurons supports simulation theory (ST). There has been much controversy about this, however, as there are various competing models of the functional contribution of mirror systems, only some of which characterize mirroring as simulation in the sense required by ST. But a brief review of these models reveals that they all include simulation in some sense . In this paper, I propose that the broader conception of simulation (...) articulated by neo-empiricist theories of concepts can subsume the more specific conceptions of simulation presented by ST and by these other models, thereby offering a framework in which each of these models may play a role. According to neo-empiricism, conceptual thought in general involves simulation in the sense that it is grounded in sensory, motor, and other embodied systems (Barsalou, Behavioral and Brain Sciences , 22 , 577–609, 1999 , Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London: Biological Sciences , 364 , 1281–1289, 2009 ; Barsalou et al., Trends in Cognitive Sciences , 7 (2), 84–91, 2003 ; Prinz 2002 , Mind & Language , 25 (5), 612–621, 2010 ; Glenberg and Robertson, Journal of Memory and Language , 43 , 379–401, 2000 ). Crucially, the term “simulation” here refers not to simulations of a target agent’s experience in the sense endorsed by simulation theory but to the activation of sensory, motor, affective, and introspective representations. This difference does not entail that neo-empiricism must be in competition with ST—indeed, I will propose that ST can be embedded as a special case within neo-empiricism. (shrink)
The widely touted discovery of mirror neurons has generated intense scientific interest in the neurobiology of intersubjectivity. Social neuroscientists have claimed that mirror neurons, located in brain regions associated with motor action, facial recognition, and somatosensory processing, allow us to automatically grasp other people's intentions and emotions. Despite controversies, mirror neuron research is animating materialist, affective, and embodied accounts of intersubjectivity. My view is that mirror neurons raise issues that are directly relevant to feminism and cultural studies, but interventions (...) are needed for the work to be compatible with nonreductionist critical thought. In this article I critique the dominant neuroscientific account of mirror neurons, called embodiedsimulation theory. I draw from feminist epistemologies as well as alternative interpretations of mirror neurons in cognitive science and philosophy of mind to consider mirroring as situated, embodied perception. (shrink)
Processing of facial expressions goes beyond simple pattern recognition. To elucidate this problem, Niedenthal et al. offer a model that identifies multiple embodied and disembodied routes for expression processing, and spell out conditions triggering use of different routes. I elaborate on this model by discussing recent research on emotional recognition in individuals with autism, who can use multiple routes of emotion processing, and consequently can show atypical and typical patterns of embodiedsimulation and mimicry.
The embodiedsimulation of smiles involves motor activity that often changes the perceivers' own emotional experience (e.g., smiling can make us feel happy). Although Niedenthal et al. mention this possibility, the psychological processes by which embodiment changes emotions and their consequences for processing other emotions are not discussed in the target article's review. We argue that understanding the processes initiated by embodiment is important for a complete understanding of the effects of embodiment on emotion perception.
Theory of mind explanations of how we know other minds are limited in several ways. First, they construe intersubjective relations too narrowly in terms of the specialized cognitive abilities of explaining and predicting another person's mental states and behaviors. Second, they sometimes draw conclusions about secondperson interaction from experiments designed to test third-person observation of another's behavior. As a result, the larger claims that are sometimes made for theory of mind, namely, that theory of mind is our primary and pervasive (...) means for understanding other persons, go beyond both the phenomenological and the scientific evidence. I argue that the interpretation of "primary intersubjectivity" as merely precursory to theory of mind is inadequate. Rather, primary intersubjectivity, understood as a set of embodied practices and capabilities, is not only primary in a developmental sense, but is the primary way we continue to understand others in second-person interactions. (shrink)
How and when do we learn to understand other people’s perspectives and possibly divergent beliefs? This question has elicited much theoretical and empirical research. A puzzling finding has been that toddlers perform well on so-called implicit false belief (FB) tasks but do not show such capacities on traditional explicit FB tasks. I propose a navigational approach, which offers a hitherto ignored way of making sense of the seemingly contradictory results. The proposal involves a distinction between how we navigate FBs as (...) they relate to (1) our current affordances (here & now navigation) as opposed to (2) presently non-actual relations, where we need to leave our concrete embodied/situated viewpoint (counterfactual navigation). It is proposed that whereas toddlers seem able to understand FBs in their current affordance space, they do not yet possess the resources to navigate in abstraction from such concrete affordances, which explicit FB tests seem to require. It is hypothesized that counterfactual navigation depends on the development of “sensorimotor priors,” i.e., statistical expectations of own kinesthetic re-afference, which evidence now suggests matures around age four, consistent with core findings of explicit FB performance. (shrink)
Anthony Brueckner, in a recent article, proffers ‘a new way of thinking about Bostrom's Simulation Argument’ . His comments, however, misconstrue the argument; and some words of explanation are in order.The Simulation Argument purports to show, given some plausible assumptions, that at least one of three propositions is true . Roughly stated, these propositions are: almost all civilizations at our current level of development go extinct before reaching technological maturity; there is a strong convergence among technologically mature civilizations (...) such that almost all of them lose interest in creating ancestor-simulations; almost all people with our sorts of experiences live in computer simulations. I also argue that conditional on you should assign a very high credence to the proposition that you live in a computer simulation. However, pace Brueckner, I do not argue that we should believe that we are in simulation. 1 In fact, I believe that we are probably not simulated. The Simulation Argument purports to show only that, as well as , at least one of – is true; but it does not tell us which one.Brueckner also writes: " It is worth noting that one reason why Bostrom thinks that the number of Sims [computer-generated minds with experiences similar to those typical of normal, embodied humans living in a Sim-free early 21 st century world] will vastly outstrip the number of humans is that Sims ‘will run their … ". (shrink)
Largely aided by the neurological discovery of so-called “ mirror neurons,” the attention to motor activity during action observation has exploded over the last two decades. The idea that we internally “ mirror ” the actions of others has led to a new strand of implicit simulation theories of action understanding. The basic idea of this sort of simulation theory is that we, via an automatic covert activation of our own action representations, can understand the action and possibly (...) the goal and/or intentions of the observed agent. In this way motor “simulation” is seen as the basis for low-level “mind-reading”; i.e. for the ascription of goals and intentional mental states to others. The thought is that one, through mirroring simulations, can get beyond the observable behaviour to the hidden minds of others. I am questioning the idea of an exclusively “mirroring” role of the motor system in social perception, which is tacitly assumed in this sort of simulation theories. Is motor activity during action observation really primarily a simulation, a detailed “echo” of the others action? My point is not that we never simulate what we observe, but rather to question whether such processes are representative of the overall motor contribution to social cognition. More and more studies on the functional properties of mirror neurons and motor facilitation during perception points to a more complex role of the motor system in action perception. Recently, several proposals have been made attempting to reinterpret and critique the function of motor activity in social situations. I shall here briefly touch on a few of these and sketch parts of my own alternative “social affordance” hypothesis of the sensorimotor contribution to social perception. By way of these analyses I highlight how traditional discussions are marred by problematic theoretical assumptions. It seems to me that we need a thorough reinterpretation not just of mirror neurons and mirroring, but also of what we take motor and social cognition to be. In my view the details of the sensorimotor findings underline the need to move beyond the simplistic idea of the motor system as a unitary output system. In terms of social cognition I question the traditional focus on hidden mental states. I suggest that the motor contribution might have more to do with understanding the process of how others choose their actions, navigate the world and relate to others than with simulating specific actual actions or mental states. I conclude that low-level simulation theories, which see the motor role in social perception as passive “mirroring,” are faced with serious empirical challenges, and that the motor system serve a much more proactive and complex cognitive role in social perception and interaction than previously thought. But my claim is also that many empirical tensions have slipped out of focus due to entrenched theoretical assumptions. Narrow theoretical expectations have marked not only the interpretations but the research itself and I propose that we are in dire need of more studies of actual contextual and interactive social perception. (shrink)
The increasing use of online simulations as replacements for animal dissection in the classroom or lab raises important questions about the nature of simulation itself and its relationship to embodied educational experience. This paper addresses these questions first by presenting a comparative hermeneutic-phenomenological investigation of online and offline dissection. It then interprets the results of this study in terms of Borgmann’s (1992) notion of the intentional “transparency” and “pliability” of simulated hyperreality. It makes the case that it is (...) precisely encumbrance and disruption—elements that are by definition excluded from simulations and interfaces—which give dissection its educational value. (shrink)
As embodied theories of cognition are increasingly formalized and tested, care must be taken to make informed assumptions regarding the nature of concepts and representations. In this study, we outline three reasons why one cannot, in effect, represent the same concept twice. First, online perception affects offline representation: Current representational content depends on how ongoing demands direct attention to modality-specific systems. Second, language is a fundamental facilitator of offline representation: Bootstrapping and shortcuts within the computationally cheaper linguistic system continuously (...) modify representational content. Third, time itself is a source of representational change: As the content of underlying concepts shifts with the accumulation of direct and vicarious experience, so too does the content of representations that draw upon these concepts. We discuss the ramifications of these principles for research into both human and synthetic cognitive systems. (shrink)
Over the past 15 years, there have been two increasingly popular approaches to the study of meaning in cognitive science. One, based on theories of embodied cognition, treats meaning as a simulation of perceptual and motor states. An alternative approach treats meaning as a consequence of the statistical distribution of words across spoken and written language. On the surface, these appear to be opposing scientific paradigms. In this review, we aim to show how recent cross-disciplinary developments have done (...) much to reconcile these two approaches. The foundation to these developments has been the recognition that intralinguistic distributional and sensory-motor data are interdependent. We describe recent work in philosophy, psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and computational modeling that are all based on or consistent with this conclusion. We conclude by considering some possible directions for future research that arise as a consequence of these developments. (shrink)
ion is instrumental for our understanding of how numbers are cognitively represented. We propose that the notion of abstraction becomes testable from within the framework of simulated cognition. We describe mental simulation as embodied, grounded, and situated cognition, and report evidence for number representation at each of these levels of abstraction.
I consider how we might begin to redress a cognitive model for thought experimental and other imagery-based scientific reasoning from an embodied cognition viewpoint. The paper gravitates on clarifying tour issues: (i) the danger of understanding the genuine novelty of thought-experimental reasoning and other imagery-based reasoning as a product of ‘quasi-perceiving’ new phenomenology with the ‘mind’s eye’ (as asserted by quasi-pictorialist theories of imagery); (ii) the erroneous choice of units of analysis that assume equivalence of external reports of visual (...) imagery with those internal structures that govern imagery-based reasoning, which are, as I will argue, largely linked to motor processes; (iii) the establishment of thought experimentation as imagery-based reasoning by providing evidence for the psychological necessity of imagistic simulation in thought experiments; (iv) a cognitive model for how learning via thought experimentation and other imagery-based reasoning takes place. The study was underpinned by constructivist assumptions. Case methodology was adopted, the case being a pair of final year A-level physics students. Data was collected through non-participant observation over two sessions of collaborative problem-solving. The tasks drew upon Newtonian mechanics. (shrink)
Niedenthal et al. present a model for embodied emotion simulation and expression understanding that spans multiple brain systems. This commentary addresses the potential role of time in this model, and its implications for understanding social dysfunction.
Imitation, deliberation, and mindreading are characteristically human sociocognitive skills. Research on imitation and its role in social cognition is flourishing across various disciplines; it is here surveyed under headings of behavior, subpersonal mechanisms, and functions of imitation. A model is then advanced within which many of the developments surveyed can be located and explained. The shared circuits model explains how imitation, deliberation, and mindreading can be enabled by subpersonal mechanisms of control, mirroring and simulation. It is cast at a (...) middle, functional level of description, between the level of neural implementation and the level of conscious perceptions and intentional actions. The shared circuits model connects shared informational dynamics for perception and action with shared informational dynamics for self and other, while also showing how the action/perception, self/other and actual/possible distinctions can be overlaid on these shared informational dynamics. It avoids the common conception of perception and action as separate and peripheral to central cognition. Rather, it contributes to the situated cognition movement by showing how mechanisms for perceiving action can be built on those for active perception. (shrink)
Mirror neurons fire both when a primate executes a transitive action directed toward a target (e.g., grasping) and when he observes the same action performed by another. According to the prevalent interpretation, action-mirroring is a process of interpersonal neural similarity whereby an observer maps the agent's perceived movements onto her own motor repertoire. Furthermore, ever since Gallese and Goldman's (1998) influential paper, action-mirroring has been linked to third-person mindreading on the grounds that it enables an observer to represent the agent's (...) intention. In this paper, I criticize the prevalent interpretation on two grounds. First, action-mirroring could not result in interpersonal neural similarity unless there was a single mechanism active at different times in a single brain during the execution and the perception of acts of grasping. Second, such a neural mechanism is better conceived as underlying the possession of the concept of grasping than as a basis for mindreading. (shrink)