On the role and limitations of motor internal simulation as a way of predicting the effects of a future action in the brain

Myrthel Dogge, Ruud Custers, Henk Aarts, Moving Forward: On the Limits of Motor-Based Forward Models. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Volume 23, Issue 9, 2019, Pages 743-753, DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2019.06.008.

The human ability to anticipate the consequences that result from action is an essential building block for cognitive, emotional, and social functioning. A dominant view is that this faculty is based on motor predictions, in which a forward model uses a copy of the motor command to predict imminent sensory action-consequences. Although this account was originally conceived to explain the processing of action-outcomes that are tightly coupled to bodily movements, it has been increasingly extrapolated to effects beyond the body. Here, we critically evaluate this generalization and argue that, although there is ample evidence for the role of predictions in the processing of environment-related action-outcomes, there is hitherto little reason to assume that these predictions result from motor-based forward models.

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