Marc Jeannerod (1935-2011) was an internationally recognized researcher in cognitive neuroscience and experimental psychology. His research focused on the cognitive and neurophysiological mechanisms that lie behind motor control, motor cognition, emotion and self-awareness.
Marc Jeannerod specialized in medicine and subsequent neurology at the University of Lyon. His further research training was under the guidance of Michel Jouvet, one of the discoverers of REM sleep. Later, he moved to the United States to work at the University of California, Los Angeles and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, before returning to Lyon, where he became a professor at the university. He founded and chaired the French Institute of Cognitive Sciences at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) until 2003.
He was a member of the Academy of French Sciences and a member of the French Legion of Honour.
Marc Jeannerod’s work in neurophysiology and clinical neuropsychology has contributed to new knowledge in the areas of cognitive motor control and motor cognition. His work has both led to general theory developments as well as better understanding of concrete clinical disorders.
He has been strongly interested in the concept of representation and the idea of “unexecuted actions” in the motor system. This theory of simulations implies that any goal-directed action has a hidden (covert) stage that contains knowledge about the goal of the action, the motoric means for achieving it as well as its consequences. This hidden “action representation” can also be activated if the action is observed by others.