Our ability to acknowledge and recognise our own identity - our 'self' - is a characteristic doubtless unique to humans. Where does this feeling come from? How does the combination of neurophysiological processes coupled with our interaction with the outside world construct this coherent identity? We know that our social interactions contribute via the eyes, ears etc. However, our self is not only influenced by our senses. It is also influenced by the actions we perform and those we see others (...) perform. Our brain anticipates the effects of our own actions and simulates the actions of others. In this way, we become able to understand ourselves and to understand the actions and emotions of others. -/- This book is the first to describe the new field of 'Motor Cognition' - one to which the author's contribution has been seminal. Though motor actions have long been studied by neuroscientists and physiologists, it is only recently that scientists have considered the role of actions in building the self. How consciousness of action is part of self-consciousness, how one's own actions determine the sense of being an agent, how actions performed by others impact on ourselves for understanding others, differentiating ourselves from them and learning from them: these questions are raised and discussed throughout the book, drawing on experimental, clinical, and theoretical bases. -/- The advent of new neuroscience techniques, like neuroimaging and direct electrical brain stimulation, together with a renewal of behavioral methods in cognitive psychology, provide new insights into this area. Mental imagery of action, self-recognition, consciousness of actions, imitation can be objectively studied using these new tools. The results of these investigations shed light on clinical disorders in neurology, psychiatry and in neuro-development. -/- This is a major new work that will lay down the foundations for the field of motor cognition. (shrink)
This paper concerns how motor actions are neurally represented and coded. Action planning and motor preparation can be studied using a specific type of representational activity, motor imagery. A close functional equivalence between motor imagery and motor preparation is suggested by the positive effects of imagining movements on motor learning, the similarity between the neural structures involved, and the similar physiological correlates observed in both imaging and preparing. The content of motor representations can be inferred from motor images at a (...) macroscopic level, based on global aspects of the action and the motor rules and constraints which predict the spatial path and kinematics of movements. A more microscopic neural account calls for a representation of object-oriented action. Object attributes are processed in different neural pathways depending on the kind of task the subject is performing. During object-oriented action, a pragmatic representation is activated in which object affordances are transformed into specific motor schemas. Animal as well as human clinical data implicate the posterior parietal and premotor cortical areas in schema instantiation. A mechanism is proposed that is able to encode the desired goal of the action and is applicable to different levels of representational organization. (shrink)
Ways of Seeing is a unique collaboration between an eminent philosopher and a world famous neuroscientist. It focuses on one of the most basic human functions - vision. What does it mean to 'see'. It brings together electrophysiological studies, neuropsychology, psychophysics, cognitive psychology, and philosophy of mind. The first truly interdisciplinary book devoted to the topic of vision, it will make a valuable contribution to the field of cognitive science.
The abilities to attribute an action to its proper agent and to understand its meaning when it is produced by someone else are basic aspects of human social communication. Several psychiatric syndromes, such as schizophrenia, seem to lead to a dysfunction of the awareness of one’s own action as well as of recognition of actions performed by other. Such syndromes offer a framework for studying the determinants of agency, the ability to correctly attribute actions to their veridical source. Thirty normal (...) subjects and 30 schizophrenic patients with and without hallucinations and/or delusional experiences were required to execute simple finger and wrist movements, without direct visual control of their hand. The image of either their own hand or an alien hand executing the same or a different movement was presented on a TV-screen in real time. The task for the subjects was to discriminate whether the hand presented on the screen was their own or not. Hallucinating and deluded schizophrenic patients were more impaired in discriminating their own hand from the alien one than the non-hallucinating ones, and tended to misattribute the alien hand to themselves. Results are discussed according to a model of action control. A tentative description of the mechanisms leading to action consciousness is proposed. (shrink)
Recent advances in the cognitive neuroscience of action have considerably enlarged our understanding of human motor cognition. In particular, the activity of the mirror system, first discovered in the brain of non-human primates, provides an observer with the understanding of a perceived action by means of the motor simulation of the agent's observed movements. This discovery has raised the prospects of a motor theory of social cognition. Since human social cognition includes the ability to mindread, many motor theorists of social (...) cognition try to bridge the gap between motor cognition and mindreading by endorsing a simulation account of mindreading. Here, we express our skepticism about the motor theory of social cognition. (shrink)
This paper is concerned with the problem of selfidentification in the domain of action. We claim that this problem can arise not just for the self as object, but also for the self as subject in the ascription of agency. We discuss and evaluate some proposals concerning the mechanisms involved in selfidentification and in agencyascription, and their possible impairments in pathological cases. We argue in favor of a simulation hypothesis that claims that actions, whether overt or covert, are centrally simulated (...) by the neural network, and that this simulation provides the basis for action recognition and attribution. (shrink)
This paper offers a framework for consciousness of internal reality. Recent PET experiments are reviewed, showing partial overlap of cortical activation during self-produced actions and actions observed from other people. This overlap suggests that representations for actions may be shared by several individuals, a situation which creates a potential problem for correctly attributing an action to its agent. The neural conditions for correct agency judgments are thus assigned a key role in self/other distinction and self-consciousness. A series of behavioral experiments (...) that demonstrate, in normal subjects, the poor monitoring of action-related signals and the difficulty in recognizing self-produced actions are described. In patients presenting delusions, this difficulty dramatically increases and actions become systematically misattributed. These results point to schizophrenia and related disorders as a paradigmatic alteration of a ''Who?'' system for self-consciousness. (shrink)
This study aimed at evaluating the role of proprioception in the process of matching the final position of one's limbs with an intentional movement. Two experiments were realised with the same paradigm of conscious recognition of one's own limb position from a distorted position. In the first experiment, 22 healthy subjects performed the task in an active and in a passive condition. In the latter condition, proprioception was the only available information since the central signals related to the motor command (...) were likely to be absent. The second experiment was realised with a deafferented patient who suffers from a complete haptic deafferentation, including loss of proprioception. The results first argue in favour of a dominant role of proprioception in action recognition, but they also stress the possible role of central signals. The process of matching the final position of one's limbs with an intended movement and thus of action recognition would be achieved through a comparison process between the predicted sensory consequences of the action, which are stored in its internal model, and the actual sensory consequences of that action. (shrink)
According to the two visual systems model, the visual processing of objects divides into semantic and pragmatic processing. We provide various criteria for this distinction. Further, we argue that both the semantic and pragmatic processing of visual information about objects should be divided into low-level processing and high-level processing. Finally, we re-evaluate the contribution of the human parietal lobe to the concious visual perception of spatial relations among objects.
Marc Jeannerod is director of the Institut des Sciences Cognitives in Lyon. His work in neuropsychology focuses on motor action. The idea that there is an essential relationship between bodily movement, consciousness, and cognition is not a new one, but recent advances in the technologies of brain imaging have provided new and detailed support for understanding this relationship. Experimental studies conducted by Jeannerod and his colleagues at Lyon have explored the details of brain activity, not only as we are actively (...) moving, but as we plan to move, as we imagine moving, and as we observe others move. His work also captures important distinctions between pathological and non-pathological experience. In The Cognitive Neuroscience of Action , Jeannerod focussed on object-oriented actions. What happens in the brain and what do we experience when we reach to grasp an object? How do we plan an action of that sort? To what extent does explicit motor imagery contribute to such action? What role does a motor representation or motor schema play in the accomplishment of action? At the very end of that book he raises questions that seem quite different. How is it possible to understand the intentions of others? Precisely what mechanisms allow us to imitate other people's actions? In more recent years much of Jeannerod's work has been in pursuit of these questions about interaction with others, and he has helped to show that there are intimate connections between moving ourselves and understanding others. Jeannerod's work does not lack important implications for a philosophical understanding of human activity. Although in contemporary philosophical debates on consciousness one can still find arguments that simply ignore bodily movement as an important factor in cognition, several recent works have returned to serious consideration of movement and action . In the following interview Jeannerod discusses many issues relevant to the philosophy of mind and action, including concepts of intentionality, movement and consciousness of movement, the role of simulation in understanding others, and the best way to conceptualize brain processes in all of these regards. Importantly, he makes constant reference to the empirical evidence, much of it developed in his own experimental studies. (shrink)
Human vision raises a number of puzzles. Among them are the puzzles of visual experience: how to provide a scientific understanding of the phenomenal character of the visual experiences of the shapes, textures, colors, orientations and motion of perceived objects? How can a purely subjective visual experience be the basis of so much objective knowledge of the world? Visually guided actions raise a different puzzle: how can actions directed towards a target be so accurate in the absence of the agent’s (...) awareness of many of the target’s visual attributes? Ways of Seeing has three related goals, the first of which is to make the case for a broadly representational approach to the above set of puzzles. The second goal of WoS is to argue that the version of the ‘two-visual systems’ model of human vision best supported by the current empirical evidence has the resources to solve the puzzle of visually guided actions, which has been at the center of much recent work in the cognitive neuroscience of vision and action. The third goal of WoS is to draw attention to some of the tensions between acceptance of the two-visual systems model of human vision and some influential views about the nature and function of the content of visual experience espoused by philosophers in response to the puzzles raised by visual experience. (shrink)
Recent experiments in normal subjects using neuroimaging demonstrate that the dorsal cortico-cortical pathway is involved during purely perceptual activities. Pathological cases with right posterior parietal lesions show deficits in visuospatial perception. It is argued that the radical dichotomy between perception and action pathways, as heralded in Milner and Goodale's book should be reexamined. The idea of distributed networks using resources in both visual pathways and recruited as a function of task demands is presented.
La plupart de nos actions sont exécutées sous le contrôle de mécanismes automatiques. Le sentiment d'avoir volontairement causé une action et, par extension, la conscience de soi relèvent de mécanismes antérieurs au sentiment qu'ils causent, antériorité fondée sur la lenteur des processus aboutissant à l'expérience consciente. La conscience n'a done pas de rôle causal immédiat sur l'activité nerveuse ni sur le comportement, elle intervient a posteriori pour structurer le moi cognitif et maintenir l'unité du moi. Most of our actions are (...) executed under the control of automatic mechanisms. The feeling one has to have willingly caused an action and — by extension — selfconsciousness, refer to the mechanisms prior to the feeling it lead to, i.e. a precedence resting on the slowness of processes leading to a conscious experience. Consciousness thus seems to have no immediate causal part to play on the nervous activity neither on behaviour, it interferes only later in order to structure the cognitive ego and keep some cohesiveness to the ego. (shrink)
Marc Jeannerod and I wrote a Précis of our 2003 book Ways of Seeing. The journal Dialogue asked Tim Schroeder, Alva Noë, Pierre Poirier and Martin Ratte to write a critical essay on our book. In this piece, we reply to our critics.