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The Pragmatic TurnToward Action-Oriented Views in Cognitive Science$
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Andreas K. Engel, Karl J. Friston, and Danica Kragic

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780262034326

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262034326.001.0001

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Language, Action, Interaction

Language, Action, Interaction

Neuropragmatic Perspectives on Symbols, Meaning, and Context-Dependent Function

(p.139) 9 Language, Action, Interaction
The Pragmatic Turn

Friedemann Pulvermüller

The MIT Press

Neural mechanisms of cognition are built upon action, action perception, and interaction. This chapter explains how this novel perspective is enforced by research on language, semantic concepts, and social communication. Whereas classic approaches attributed these specifically human domains to genetic endowment and encapsulated processes, modern brain research has proven that mechanisms for speech sounds and symbol forms emerge as a result of sensorimotor functional interaction in the brain, and that conceptual-semantic meaning is built out of the interaction of learners with their environment and peers. Correlational Hebbian learning in anatomically prestructured network architectures binds articulatory-motor to auditory-perceptual (“phonological”) knowledge. This epigenetic neurobiological perspective also explains important aspects of whole form (“lexical”) storage of symbols and constructions, combinatorial (“distributional,” “syntactic,” or “grammatical”) linkage between stored forms, and context-dependent (semantic, pragmatic) binding between forms, their meaning, and interactive function. Over and above evidence for motor system activation in linguistic and conceptual processing, specific studies demonstrate its causal role for these domains. Thus, action-perception theory offers a novel avenue toward neurobiological explanation of the brain mechanisms for language, concepts, and pragmatic communication.

Keywords:   Strüngmann Forum Reports, action-perception theory, conceptual processing, linguistic processing, mirror neurons, neurocomputational modeling

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