Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Open Peer Commentary
Barsalou: Perpetual symbol systems

Perceptual symbols: The power and limitations of a theory of dynamic imagery and structured frames

William F. Brewer a1
a1 Department of Psychology, University of Illinois, Champaign, IL 61820


The perceptual symbol approach to knowledge representation combines structured frames and dynamic imagery. The perceptual symbol approach provides a good account of the representation of scientific models, of some types of naive theories held by children and adults, and of certain reconstructive memory phenomena. The ontological status of perceptual symbols is unclear and this form of representation does not succeed in accounting for all forms of human knowledge.