Towards a common framework of grounded action cognition: Relating motor control, perception and cognition

Cognition. 2016 Jan;146:81-9. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2015.09.010. Epub 2015 Sep 24.


The relation between motor control and action cognition - including action-related thoughts and action-related perception - has been subject to controversial discussions in the last three decades. During these decades, cognitive neuroscience has been increasingly confronted with a huge variety of different accounts trying to understand and explain the relation between these systems, their interdependencies and the mediating mechanisms by establishing notions such as "internal models", "simulation" or "shared representation". These accounts, however, include a large array of partly overlapping, partly contradictory theories using similar terms for different mechanisms and different terms for similar mechanisms. In the absence of a systematic work-up and comparison, this array of accounts and theories leads to confusion in the field, duplication of experimental work, and unconnected parallelism of theory formation within and between different disciplines. Here we provide a systematic comparison of current models and prospective theories that deal with the relation between cognition, perception and motor control mechanisms. In a second step, we propose "grounded action cognition" as a comprehensive metatheoretical framework which defines different hypothetical possibilities of the relations between these domains, offers systematic insights into current models and theories and last but not least may help to increase comparability of empirical research in the domain of action and action cognition.

Keywords: Action cognition; Action perception; Common coding; Grounded cognition; Internal models; Motor control; Simulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Perception / physiology*