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This textbook provides a clear overview of this area of cognitive psychology which encompasses both language and thought. Focusing on goal-directed thinking and decision making, Nick Lund looks at the relationship between our grasp of language and our problem-solving abilities. Read more. Add to Basket. Subscribe now to be the first to hear about specials and upcoming releases. Title Author. Add to Basket Add to Wishlist. For critical evaluations of fMRI and PET studies aiming to show the presence of a mirror neuron system in humans see Turella et alia ; see also Hickok Indirect evidence in support of a mirror system in humans comes from studies on the reactivity of cerebral rhythm, the posterior alpha rhythm and the central mu rhythm, during action observation.

While the mu rhythm is present during motor rest, it disappears when active movements are performed. Electrophysiological results have shown that observing the action executed by another individual blocks the mu rhythm of the observer, thus providing evidence for a resonance system , which links the observed action to the action of the subject's own motor repertoire Oberman et alia ; Cochin et alia ; Gastaut and Bert , Cohen-Seat et alia Left motor cortex of normal participants was stimulated both during the observation of intransitive and goal-directed arm movements.

Motor evoked potentials were recorded from various hand muscles. The results showed a selective increase in motor evoked potentials in the regions that participants normally recruit for producing the observed action. That means that when we observe a person grasping a cup of coffee the very same neural population that controls the execution of the grasping movement becomes active in the observer's motor areas. On this view, it is the embodied imitation of the observed body in action that directly enables us to recognize others as persons like us, not an abstract, inferential and theory-like process.

Language and Thought (Routledge Modular Psychology)

The hypothesis that action understanding is based on a resonance mechanism does not exclude the possibility that other processes, based on movement descriptions, could influence this function. It simply highlights the primacy of a direct, automatic and prereflexive matching between the observation and the execution of action. By accepting this premise the traditional tension between acting and thinking considerably shrinks, as the capacity to detect the meaning of the behaviors of others consists in employing the same resources used to model our motor behavior.

A dominant tradition in moral theory for the past several centuries has placed reason at the center of moral thought and moral behavior. Kohlberg's cognitive developmental work on moral cognition reflects this spirit. Kohlberg consistently endorsed, along the lines of classic cognitivism, a rationalist model in which emotions and body states may be taken into account by reason but it is pure reasoning that ultimately leads to moral decisions. His paradigm inspired most leading studies in the field, all characterized by the common view that cognitive processing in the moral domain is disengaged from the economy of emotions and body.

Recent work in embodied moral cognition challenges this paradigm. Social intuitionist models, for instance, claim that many moral judgments appear to be the result of affective components Greene and Haidt ; Haidt et alia When pressed to provide a justification, subjects typically focus on nonexistent harms associated with the actions, indicating that conscious reasoning is not a good predictor of their judgment of wrongness.

Disgust involves strong physical components and explicit bodily changes, such as nausea, stomach-turning, throat clenching, food-expulsion, thrusting out of the tongue, and wrinkling of the nose.

Even if disgust evolved as a food-related reaction indicating that a substance should be either avoided or expelled, it is also an emotion of social rejection, extending its reach and influence into the domain of moral cognition Niedenthal et alia ; Prinz Recent experiments have shown, for example, that the feeling of disgust induced by the exposure to a bad smell or dirty looking room makes moral judgments more severe Schnall et alia a , and that subjects who physically cleanse themselves then find certain moral actions to be less wrong than do participants not exposed to a cleanliness manipulation Schnall et alia b.

In a recent study Inbar et alia experimenters found that people reported more negative evaluations towards gays and lesbians when exposed to a noxious odor in the room than when no odor was present.


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Even anger has been shown to deeply shape the representations available to moral judgment. Anger over a traffic incident before going to work may lead to an increased reliance on prejudice when interviewing a job candidate afterwards DeSteno et alia This space-valence implicit mapping can be manipulated via changes in body- environment interactions. Subjects who lost the use of their dominant hand or wear a glove that impairs motor fluency show a reversal of their space —valence associations Casasanto and Chrysikou For a detailed discussion of how affective judgments incorporate patterns of bodily interaction with the environment and are constrained by a range of embodied capabilities see Casasanto The empirical literature suggests that the specificity of one's own bodily cues and affective reactions e.

In addition, it suggests that dramatic deficits occur when subjects do not exhibit and make use of these cues and reactions. Damasio's somatic marker hypothesis , claims that bodily states, normally triggered during emotional experiences, are re-enacted whenever certain situations occur or are considered, and such re-enaction avoids deleterious consequences of one's course of action. When the capacity to integrate these feelings either positive or negative with one's own knowledge of facts is severely compromised, as is the case in ventro-medial-prefrontal cortex VMPFC patients, making judgments and decisions is severely impaired.

If Damasio's hypothesis is correct, then the affective and bodily feedback implicated in various types of moral judgment do not simply lead to different understandings and conceptualizations of the situation at hand, but are part of the physical machinery realizing cognitive processes.

While we think there is broad empirical support for the idea that sensorimotor activity and central cognitive processing are more deeply dependent on one another than previously thought, and for the view that bodily activity can constrain, distribute, and regulate neural activity, embodied cognitive science has also been invoked in support of more radical philosophical ideas about cognition and the mind. For example, as we noted in Section 3 , some have argued that embodied cognition implies that cognition itself leaks out into the body and ultimately the environment A.

Proponents of the traditional view that cognition is skull-bound have argued, in reply, both that this inference is mistaken and the view it leads to is implausible and metaphysically extravagant Rupert b; Adams and Aizawa ; Aizawa We take up such further philosophical issues in Section 6 below. The difference that embodied cognition makes to the three issues we discussed in Section 4 —the modularity of mind, the nature of mental representation, and nativism about the mind, remains a live issue of debate in the philosophy of mind and cognitive science.

The same is true of the interpretation of the particular empirical results described in Section 5. We think that some of these disagreements both reflect and contribute to sharper divides over the significance of embodied cognitive science.

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We discuss four such issues in this concluding section, structuring our discussion around four corresponding questions:. Our aim here is not to provide extensive answers to these questions, but to indicate briefly what our review of contemporary work on embodied cognition indicates about the issues that they raise. We take each in turn. Insofar as embodied cognitive science has its origins in a variety of dissatisfaction with traditional cognitive science, it has explored novel questions about cognition and generated results that have, in some cases, been unexpected.

As we have seen in the previous section, embodied cognitive science continues to produce empirical research that is interesting, novel, and controversial. In this respect, embodied cognitive science is not simply or chiefly a philosophical mantra empty of empirical content, but a cluster of perspectives on cognition whose empirical orientation and rootedness cannot be questioned. For example, Lawrence Shapiro has argued that the views of Lakoff and Johnson on metaphor, thought, and the body are fully compatible with central tenets of traditional cognitive science, such as the idea that cognition centrally involves computation over internal mental representations see also Shapiro Robert Rupert b has argued more generally for compatibility between the empirical findings of embodied cognitive science and the core assumptions of traditional cognitive science.

Likewise, Fred Adams has argued that one should distinguish between the empirical premise in arguments for the embodiment of cognition, and a requisite logical-metaphysical premise, and that the latter of these is seldom supported. Adams focuses on Glenberg's work on meaning affordances Glenberg and Kaschak ; see also Glenberg and Robertson , Glenberg et al. From this perspective, one should sift the empirical wheat of embodied cognitive science from the revolutionary, philosophical chaff that has characterized that movement from the outset.

This issue, in turn, brings us to our next issue.

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For the most part, questioning whether embodied cognitive science delivers on the revolutionary front has proceeded not by drawing on general considerations—say, of the underdetermination of theory by data—but by a detailed consideration of particular empirical results cf. Rupert b: ch. This is more so in the evaluation of this type of challenge to proponents of embodied cognition. Here we settle for making one general point about the state of the dialectic here, and state where we believe the burden of proof lies.

Suppose that we simply grant the historical claim that the focus and orientation of traditional cognitive science has not taken cognition to be dependent, in any significant way, on the body. What does this imply about the explanatory power of traditional cognitive science vis-a-vis the Embodiment Thesis? Recall that we have analyzed the Embodiment Thesis in terms of three determinate theses about the nature of the dependence of cognition on the body, each with its own particular implications:.

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Those seeking to resist the challenge that one or more of these views poses to traditional cognitive science have two primary options: to deny the truth of the corresponding thesis, or to reject the inference s from that thesis to claims about what traditional cognitive science can and cannot explain.

Defenders of traditional cognitive science have considerable dialectical power available here, and they have made effective use of a familiar argumentative strategy in resisting the embodied cognition challenge: to grant that there is a weak or limited sense in which one or more of these particular embodiment thesis is correct, but argue that the inferential gap between such theses and the rejection of views such as computationalism and representationalism is not bridgeable Adams , Rupert a, b a strategy that those critically sympathetic to embodied cognitive science have also made effective use of e.

To this extent, the burden of proof currently lies squarely with proponents of embodied cognitive science who hold that the revolutionary promise of embodied cognition is real to show how those gaps can be bridged. One such putatively radical implication of embodied cognition is the Extended Mind Thesis, which says that an agent's mind and associated cognitive processing are neither skull-bound nor even body-bound, but extend into the agent's world.

Unlike the Embodiment Thesis, this thesis arose via more explicitly philosophically-driven discussions—of functionalism Harman , of computationalism and individualism R.

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Wilson , ch. It thus bears a different kind of relationship to empirical work in cognitive science than does the idea of embodied cognition. Despite the legacies of these different histories, as we noted in Section 1, embodied cognition and extended cognition have recently come to be viewed as peas in the same pod, as variants of situated cognitive science.