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Grounding Procedural and Declarative Knowledge in Sensorimotor Anticipation

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We propose a view of embodied representations that is alternative to both symbolic/linguistic approaches and purely sensorimotor views of cognition, and can account for procedural and declarative knowledge manipulation. In accordance with recent evidence in cognitive neuroscience and psychology, we argue that anticipatory and simulative mechanisms, which arose during evolution for action control and not for cognition, determined the first form of representational content and were exapted for increasingly sophisticated cognitive uses. In particular, procedural and declarative forms of knowledge can be explained, respectively, in terms of on-line sensorimotor anticipation and off-line simulations of potential actions, which can give access to tacit knowledge and make it explicit. That is, mechanisms that evolved for the on-line prediction of the consequences of one's own actions (i.e. forward models) determine a (procedural) form of representation, and became exapted for off-line use. They can therefore be used to produce (declarative) knowledge of the world, by running a simulation of the action that would produce the relevant information. We conclude by discussing how embodied representations afford a form of internal manipulation that can be described as internalized situated action.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-02-01

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