Show Reference: "Embodied Cognition is Not What you Think it is"

Embodied Cognition is Not What you Think it is Frontiers in Psychology, Vol. 4 (2013), doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00058 by Andrew D. Wilson, Sabrina Golonka
    abstract = {The most exciting hypothesis in cognitive science right now is the theory that cognition is embodied. Like all good ideas in cognitive science, however, embodiment immediately came to mean six different things. The most common definitions involve the straight-forward claim that "states of the body modify states of the mind." However, the implications of embodiment are actually much more radical than this. If cognition can span the brain, body, and the environment, then the "states of mind" of disembodied cognitive science won't exist to be modified. Cognition will instead be an extended system assembled from a broad array of resources. Taking embodiment seriously therefore requires both new methods and theory. Here we outline four key steps that research programs should follow in order to fully engage with the implications of embodiment. The first step is to conduct a task analysis, which characterizes from a first person perspective the specific task that a perceiving-acting cognitive agent is faced with. The second step is to identify the task-relevant resources the agent has access to in order to solve the task. These resources can span brain, body, and environment. The third step is to identify how the agent can assemble these resources into a system capable of solving the problem at hand. The last step is to test the agent's performance to confirm that agent is actually using the solution identified in step 3. We explore these steps in more detail with reference to two useful examples (the outfielder problem and the {A-not-B} error), and introduce how to apply this analysis to the thorny question of language use. Embodied cognition is more than we think it is, and we have the tools we need to realize its full potential.},
    author = {Wilson, Andrew D. and Golonka, Sabrina},
    citeulike-article-id = {12016477},
    citeulike-linkout-0 = {},
    citeulike-linkout-1 = {},
    citeulike-linkout-2 = {},
    citeulike-linkout-3 = {},
    doi = {10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00058},
    issn = {1664-1078},
    journal = {Frontiers in Psychology},
    keywords = {cognition, cognitive-neuroscience, embodiment},
    pmcid = {PMC3569617},
    pmid = {23408669},
    posted-at = {2014-09-04 16:06:39},
    priority = {2},
    title = {Embodied Cognition is Not What you Think it is},
    url = {},
    volume = {4},
    year = {2013},
    editor = {Louise Connell}

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The idea of embodied cognition is not just that cognitive processes are influenced by bodily states.

The idea of embodied cognition is not just that cognitive processes are influenced by bodily states.

Wilson and Golonka argue that early research in cognitive science operated under the assumption that our sensory organs aren't very good and the brain needs to make up for that.

Newer results show, according to the authors, that our perceptual world does give us many resources (in brain, body, and environment) to respond to our environment without the need for creating detailed mental representation and operating on them.

The replacement hypothesis of embodiment (not the one in anthropology) states that a description of the dynamics of body, brain, and environment can replace a description of human cognition in terms of representations and computational processes.

According to Wilson and Golonka, there are four questions a truly embodied research programme (theory?) needs to ask:

  1. What is the task to be solved?
  2. Which (cognitive, bodily, environmental) resources does the organism have to solve the task?
  3. How can the available resources be used to solve the task?
  4. Does the organism indeed use the hypothesized resources in the hypothesized way?

Female crickets have a system for orienting towards sounds (esp. mating calls) which is arguably based more on mechanics and acoustics than on neural computation.

Wilson and Golonka argue that representations and computational processes can be replaced by world-body-brain dynamics even in neurolinguistics.

Sometimes, the best (fastest, least-suboptimal, most effortless etc.) response to a stimulus can be generated relatively directly from the way the world interacts with the body with little or no neural processing in between.

If the main task of cognition is generating the correct actions, then it is not important in itself to recover a perfect representation of the world from perception.