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As we move through the world, natural and built environments implicitly guide behavior by appealing to certain sensory and motor dynamics. This process can be motivated by automatic attention to environmental features that resonate with specific sensorimotor responses. This review aims at providing a psychobiological framework describing how environmental features can lead to automated sensorimotor responses through defined neurophysiological mechanisms underlying attention. Through the use of automated processes in subsets of cortical structures, the goal of this framework is to describe on a neuronal level the functional link between the designed environment and sensorimotor responses. By distinguishing between environmental features and sensorimotor responses we elaborate on how automatic behavior employs the environment for sensorimotor adaptation. This is realized through a thalamo-cortical network integrating environmental features with motor aspects of behavior. We highlight the underlying transthalamic transmission from an Enactive and predictive perspective and review recent studies that effectively modulated behavior by systematically manipulating environmental features. We end by suggesting a promising combination of neuroimaging and computational analysis for future studies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104715
JournalNeuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022


  • Environmental feature
  • Exogenous attention
  • Neuroarchitecture
  • Pulvinar
  • Sensorimotor feature
  • Thalamus

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