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date: 11 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Mental simulation was claimed to provide a distinctive way of gaining knowledge about others’ actions and thoughts since the late 1980s. A decade later, the discovery of mirror neurons in macaque monkeys and the evidence of mirror brain areas in humans presented a new angle on this claim, suggesting also an embodied approach to simulation. The aim of the present chapter is to introduce and discuss this embodied approach and its role in basic social cognition. In doing this, we shall start by characterizing the distinctive features of embodied simulation (ES), especially in relation to its its motor aspects. Then, we shall provide evidence for the claim that ES may be critically involved in understanding others’ actions. Finally, we shall explore the conjecture that ES might involve a common ground for action execution and observation not only at the functional but also at the phenomenological level.

Keywords: mental simulation, embodied simulation, mirror neuron, bodily formatted representation, social cognition, action understanding, action experience

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