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Modelling sensory integration and embodied cognition in a model of word recognition

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Abstract

Performing conceptual tasks that do not involve overt sensory and motor processes, can nonetheless implicate sensory and motor regions of the brain. In models of "embodied" cognition, the sensory and motor brain regions are seen as integral to the representation of the concept. Alternatively, "disembodied" theories of concept representation assume that these activations are peripheral and epiphenomenal to the representation itself. We review three sources of data for embodied cognition - the activation of sensory and motor regions for conceptual tasks, the effect on conceptual task performance when motor areas are otherwise engaged, and behavioral influences on reading in patients with impaired sensory and motor areas. We show that such data is consistent with a connectionist model of embodied cognition, and discuss the sources of data that can distinguish between embodied and disembodied accounts.