Reuse and body-formatted representations in simulation theory


I review the shifting definitions of simulation as found in recent versions of the simulation theory (ST) of social cognition. I focus on two concepts that have become central to recent ST in the work of a number of simulation theorists: the notion of reuse and the notion of B-formatted representations. I point out specific limitations or problems involved in these concepts. Although the reuse hypothesis provides an interesting evolutionary account of how neural mechanisms may adapt to new tasks, it doesn't offer an explanation of how these mechanisms work. In contrast to the genuinely embodied account that simulation theorists seek, an explanation of social cognition in terms of B-formatted representations not only remains disembodied, but also ignores social interaction and remains solipsistic. I conclude by briefly outlining a non-simulationist enactivist account that can incorporate the reuse hypothesis.

Publication Title

Cognitive Systems Research