Learning, Remembering, and Predicting How to Use Tools: Distributed Neurocognitive Mechanisms

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The reasoning-based approach championed by Francois Osiurak and Arnaud Badets (Osiurak & Badets, 2016) denies the existence of sensory-motor memories of tool use except in limited circumstances, and suggests instead that most tool use is subserved solely by online technical reasoning about tool properties. In this commentary, I highlight the strengths and limitations of the reasoning-based approach and review a number of lines of evidence that manipulation knowledge is in fact used in tool action tasks. In addition, I present a “two route” neurocognitive model of tool use called the “Two Action Systems Plus (2AS+)” framework that posits a complementary role for online and stored information and specifies the neurocognitive substrates of task-relevant action selection. This framework, unlike the reasoning based approach, has the potential to integrate the existing psychological and functional neuroanatomic data in the tool use domain.

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