E is for Embodied Cognition

| March 1, 2014

When attempting to pin down the intricate workings of the human mind, traditional cognitive neuroscientist often attribute a marginal role to the body, considering it a mere accessory to our mental processes. However, the past decade has witnessed the flourishing of a new and promising field; Embodied Cognition. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines it in the following way; “Cognition is embodied when it is deeply dependent upon features of the physical body of an agent, that is, when aspects of the agent’s body beyond the brain play a significant causal or physically constitutive role in cognitive processing.” Movement is an extremely important aspect of our exsitence, and many scholars have in fact argued that this ability may have played a crucial role in our evolution as a species. In particular, some researchers have put forth the hypothesis that our brain and cognitive abilities have developed in order to support specific actions that were required to ensure our survival. The fact that our mind is highly influenced by the way we use our bodies is grounded in the (in my opinion, irrefutable) principle that the way we think, reason, judge or even talk, is also heavily dependent on the way we perceive our surroundings, the actions we perform and the interactions our body engages in with the environment.