Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Open Peer Commentary
Barsalou: Perpetual symbol systems

Can metacognition be explained in terms of perceptual symbol systems?

Ruediger Oehlmann a1
a1 University of Essex, The Data Archive, Psychology Unit, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, CO4 3SQ, England [email protected]


Barsalou's theory of perceptual symbol systems is considered from a metacognitive perspective. Two examples are discussed in terms of the proposed perceptual symbol theory. First, recent results in research on feeling-of-knowing judgement are used to argue for a representation of familiarity with input cues. This representation should support implicit memory. Second, the ability of maintaining a theory of other people's beliefs (theory of mind) is considered and it is suggested that a purely simulation-based view is insufficient to explain the available evidence. Both examples characterize areas where Barsalou's theory would benefit from additional detail.