A “Grammar of Action”

Brilliant idea – “intriguing hypothesis of a general ‘‘grammar of action’’, which constrains how a succession of movements needs to be ordered if they are to be perceived as a goal-directed action…”

A key property shared by stimuli in the speech, music and action domains is that they consist of discrete items (i.e. words, musical sounds, and movements) strung together in such a way that meaning builds up over the course of a sequence.

Specific rules determining how these chains of items are combined into structures help us to generate expectations for up-coming events.  Thus, one function of language-specific grammars is to dictate how words need to be arranged in a meaningful sentence, culture-dependent tonal systems determine the degree of harmonic pleasantness and tension in a succession of sounds, and task-specific motor constraints govern how sequences of movements need to be ordered to successfully complete a goal-directed action.

These rules are implicitly learned through individual experience (e.g. the grammar of a specific language, the tonal system of a certain culture, proficiency in a motor task) and contribute to the establishment of internalized knowledge structures that make online prediction possible.

…we will refer to these rules as ‘‘syntactic-structures’’…not in a language specific sense, but rather in terms of logical connotation: the branch of logic that deals with how the meaning of individual signs can be altered depending on contextual factors such as their position within a sequence .

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