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date: 22 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

We characterize theories of conceptual representation as embodied, disembodied, or hybrid according to their stance on a number of different dimensions: the nature of concepts, the relation between language and concepts, the function of concepts, the acquisition of concepts, the representation of concepts, and the role of context. We propose to extend an embodied view of concepts, by taking into account the importance of multimodal associations and predictive processing. We argue that concepts are dynamically acquired and updated, based on recurrent processing of prediction error signals in a hierarchically structured network. Concepts are thus used as prior models to generate multimodal expectations, thereby reducing surprise and enabling greater precision in the perception of exemplars. This view places embodied theories of concepts in a novel predictive processing framework, by highlighting the importance of concepts for prediction, learning and shaping categories on the basis of prediction errors.

Keywords: concept acquisition, language, embodied cognition, modality-specific representations, hybrid theories, predictive processing, multisensory associations, nativism, empiricism

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