According to embodied cognition theories, higher cognitive abilities depend on the reenactment of sensory and motor representations. In the first part of this review, we critically analyze the central claims of embodied theories and argue that the existing behavioral and neuroimaging data do not allow investigators to discriminate between embodied cognition and classical cognitive accounts, which assume that conceptual representations are amodal and symbolic. In the second part, we review the main claims and the core electrophysiological findings typically cited in support of the mirror neuron theory of action understanding, one of the most influential examples of embodied cognition theories. In the final part, we analyze the claim that mirror neurons subserve action understanding by mapping visual representations of observed actions on motor representations, trying to clarify in what sense the representations carried by these neurons can be claimed motor.


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