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Embodied and Grounded Cognition: A Short Introduction

Neuroscience and Conflict Resolution Blog by Stephanie West Allen

In the past, I have posted several times about the intriguing topic of embodied cognition. Basically it looks at how we think with more than just our brains and minds, and what our bodies knows that our brains and minds do not.

From Frontiers in Cognition, we have been given a short overview of some aspects of embodied and grounded cognition. Excerpt:

1. Introduction

In the last 10-15 years, the embodied and grounded (E&G) cognition approach has become widespread in all fields related to cognitive (neuro) science, and a lot of evidence has been collected. The approach proposes that cognitive activity is grounded in sensory-motor processes and situated in specific contexts and situations.

This special topic had two aims: First, give an idea of the field in its broadness. Second, focus on some challenges for E&G theories. The first important challenge is to account for understanding abstract concepts and words. Evidence on the representation of concrete concepts is compelling, whereas evidence on abstract concepts is still scarce and limited to restricted domains. A second important challenge concerns the role of computational models. E&G theories of cognition need to formulate more precise hypotheses, and models help to constrain and specify in more detail the predictions and the claims advanced.

2. The field in its broadness

Although the importance of sensory-motor grounding had already become apparent in philosophy and linguistics, only after a couple of influential theoretical papers in the late nineties did cognitive psychology get involved seriously (Barsalou, 1999; Glenberg, 1997; Zwaan & Radvansky, 1998; Pulvermuller, 1999). The idea that cognitive processes, such as those involved in language and memory, are grounded in the same systems as those used for perception and action has received much empirical support. This special topic presents a sample of the new and exciting empirical work in this field.

Click to read the rest of "Introduction to the Special Topic Embodied and Grounded Cognition."

Note (added July 30, 2011): Another overview of embodied cognition, this from Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.


Stephanie West Allen

Stephanie West Allen, JD, practiced law in California for several years, held offices in local bar associations, and wrote chapters for California Continuing Education of the Bar. While in CA, Stephanie completed several five-day mediation training programs with the Center for Mediation in Law, as well as a two-year intensive… MORE >

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