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Mechanisms of embodiment

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      Abstract

      This paper is a critical review of recent studies demonstrating the mechanism of sensorimotor simulation in different cognitive domains. Empirical studies that specify conditions under which embodiment occurs in different domains will be discussed and evaluated. Examples of relevant domains are language comprehension (Tucker and Ellis, 1998), autobiographical memory (Dijkstra et al., 2007), gestures (Alibali et al., 2014), facial mimicry (Stel and Vonk, 2010), and problem solving (Wiemers et al., 2014). The focus of the review is on supporting claims regarding sensorimotor simulation as well as on factors that modulate dynamic relationships between sensorimotor components in action and cognitive domains, such as expertise (Boschker et al., 2002). This discussion takes place within the context of currently debated issues, specifically the need to specify the underlying mechanisms of embodied representations (Zwaan, 2014; Körner et al., 2015).

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      Most cited references 73

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      Grounded cognition.

      Grounded cognition rejects traditional views that cognition is computation on amodal symbols in a modular system, independent of the brain's modal systems for perception, action, and introspection. Instead, grounded cognition proposes that modal simulations, bodily states, and situated action underlie cognition. Accumulating behavioral and neural evidence supporting this view is reviewed from research on perception, memory, knowledge, language, thought, social cognition, and development. Theories of grounded cognition are also reviewed, as are origins of the area and common misperceptions of it. Theoretical, empirical, and methodological issues are raised whose future treatment is likely to affect the growth and impact of grounded cognition.
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        Perceptual symbol systems.

        Prior to the twentieth century, theories of knowledge were inherently perceptual. Since then, developments in logic, statistics, and programming languages have inspired amodal theories that rest on principles fundamentally different from those underlying perception. In addition, perceptual approaches have become widely viewed as untenable because they are assumed to implement recording systems, not conceptual systems. A perceptual theory of knowledge is developed here in the context of current cognitive science and neuroscience. During perceptual experience, association areas in the brain capture bottom-up patterns of activation in sensory-motor areas. Later, in a top-down manner, association areas partially reactivate sensory-motor areas to implement perceptual symbols. The storage and reactivation of perceptual symbols operates at the level of perceptual components--not at the level of holistic perceptual experiences. Through the use of selective attention, schematic representations of perceptual components are extracted from experience and stored in memory (e.g., individual memories of green, purr, hot). As memories of the same component become organized around a common frame, they implement a simulator that produces limitless simulations of the component (e.g., simulations of purr). Not only do such simulators develop for aspects of sensory experience, they also develop for aspects of proprioception (e.g., lift, run) and introspection (e.g., compare, memory, happy, hungry). Once established, these simulators implement a basic conceptual system that represents types, supports categorization, and produces categorical inferences. These simulators further support productivity, propositions, and abstract concepts, thereby implementing a fully functional conceptual system. Productivity results from integrating simulators combinatorially and recursively to produce complex simulations. Propositions result from binding simulators to perceived individuals to represent type-token relations. Abstract concepts are grounded in complex simulations of combined physical and introspective events. Thus, a perceptual theory of knowledge can implement a fully functional conceptual system while avoiding problems associated with amodal symbol systems. Implications for cognition, neuroscience, evolution, development, and artificial intelligence are explored.
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          Six views of embodied cognition.

          The emerging viewpoint of embodied cognition holds that cognitive processes are deeply rooted in the body's interactions with the world. This position actually houses a number of distinct claims, some of which are more controversial than others. This paper distinguishes and evaluates the following six claims: (1) cognition is situated; (2) cognition is time-pressured; (3) we off-load cognitive work onto the environment; (4) the environment is part of the cognitive system; (5) cognition is for action; (6) off-line cognition is body based. Of these, the first three and the fifth appear to be at least partially true, and their usefulness is best evaluated in terms of the range of their applicability. The fourth claim, I argue, is deeply problematic. The sixth claim has received the least attention in the literature on embodied cognition, but it may in fact be the best documented and most powerful of the six claims.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            Department of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Erasmus University Rotterdam , Rotterdam, Netherlands
            Author notes

            Edited by: Guillaume T. Vallet, Centre de Recherche de l’Institut Universitaire de Gériatrie de Montréal, Canada

            Reviewed by: Lionel Brunel, Université Paul Valéry, France; Denis Brouillet, Université Paul Valéry, France

            *Correspondence: Katinka Dijkstra, k.dijkstra@ 123456fsw.eur.nl

            This article was submitted to Cognition, a section of the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

            Contributors
            Journal
            Front Psychol
            Front Psychol
            Front. Psychol.
            Frontiers in Psychology
            Frontiers Media S.A.
            1664-1078
            15 October 2015
            2015
            : 6
            4606013
            10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01525
            Copyright © 2015 Dijkstra and Post.

            This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

            Counts
            Figures: 0, Tables: 0, Equations: 0, References: 71, Pages: 11, Words: 11101
            Funding
            Funded by: Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research 10.13039/501100003246
            Award ID: NWO-PROO; Project number 411-10-907
            Categories
            Psychology
            Review

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