Action-based language: A theory of language acquisition, comprehension, and production

Arthur Glenberg, Vittorio Gallese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

394 Scopus citations


Evolution and the brain have done a marvelous job solving many tricky problems in action control, including problems of learning, hierarchical control over serial behavior, continuous recalibration, and fluency in the face of slow feedback. Given that evolution tends to be conservative, it should not be surprising that these solutions are exploited to solve other tricky problems, such as the design of a communication system. We propose that a mechanism of motor control, paired controller/predictor models, has been exploited for language learning, comprehension, and production. Our account addresses the development of grammatical regularities and perspective, as well as how linguistic symbols become meaningful through grounding in perception, action, and emotional systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)905-922
Number of pages18
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2012


  • Embodiment
  • HMOSAIC model of action control
  • Language
  • Mirror neurons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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