Beyond Embodiment: From Internal Representation of Action to Symbolic Processes

  • Isabel Barahona da Fonseca
  • Jose Barahona da Fonseca
  • Vitor Pereira
Part of the Biosemiotics book series (BSEM, volume 8)


In sensorimotor integration, representation involves an anticipatory model of the action to be performed. This model integrates efferent signals (motor commands), its reafferent consequences (sensory consequences of an organism’s own motor action), and other afferences (sensory signals) originated by stimuli independent of the action performed. Representation, a form of internal modeling, is invoked to explain the fact that behavior oriented to the achievement of future goals is relatively independent from the immediate environment. Internal modeling explains how a cognitive system achieves its goals despite variations in the environment with insufficient and noisy sensory–perceptual data. In a self that acts intentionally on the environment, knowledge is dependent upon the necessity to guide actions directed toward an aim. The self-inner model, a representation of internal and external environments (including reafferent and afferent messages) and also of the behavior plans and desirable future states (aims) and efferent intentions (motor planning and motor command messages), is intrinsically linked to a thinking capacity, which is supposed to emerge from the binding of multiple influences. Thinking emerges when higher behavior strategies are considered possible and capable of leading to aims or the fulfillment of intentions. In this model, symbolization processes are projective and anticipatory and, in this way, beyond present referents. Symbolization occurs linked to action planning, command, and regulation in mental simulation. Meaning is related to an inner sense of a self that acts over the environment.


Cognitive model Anticipation Embodiment Symbolic processes Neurophysiological functions 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Isabel Barahona da Fonseca
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jose Barahona da Fonseca
    • 3
  • Vitor Pereira
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychophysiology, Faculty of PsychologyAlameda da UniversidadeLisbonPortugal
  2. 2.Faculty of PsychologyUniversity of LisbonLisbonPortugal
  3. 3.Faculty of Sciences and TechnologyNew University of LisbonLisbonPortugal

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