Action simulation in the human brain: Twelve questions

Giovanni Pezzulo, Matteo Candidi, Haris Dindo, Laura Barca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although the idea of action simulation is nowadays popular in cognitive science, neuroscience and robotics, many aspects of the simulative processes remain unclear from empirical, computational, and neural perspectives. In the first part of the article, we provide a critical review and assessment of action simulation theories advanced so far in the wider literature of embodied and motor cognition. We focus our analysis on twelve key questions, and discuss them in the context of human and (occasionally) primate studies. In the second part of the article, we describe an integrative neuro-computational account of action simulation, which links the neural substrate (as revealed in neuroimaging studies of action simulation) to the components of a computational architecture that includes internal modeling, action monitoring and inhibition mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)270-290
Number of pages21
JournalNew Ideas in Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


  • Action simulation
  • Action understanding
  • Forward model
  • Internal model
  • Motor control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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