Embodiment

Most of the approaches we will cover in this module may be loosely grouped under the term “embodiment”.  This term means many things to many people, and we will subject it to considerable inquiry.

* Here is a lecture by Rolf Pfeiffer on Embodiment, that contains some interesting lessons from robotics research.

It comes from a useful page of lectures on topics related to this course found at this address.

There is much loose talk of the “embodied” approach to cognitive science these days. In fact, there is no such singular approach.  Embodiment is a theme that pervades many diverse takes on minds, bodies, and behavior.  This is just a sampling, and can not claim to be comprehensive.  Concerns of embodiment are relevant to pretty much everything discussed in this module.

* You might start by reading this excellent blog post that bemoans the trivial treatment of embodiment.

Then pick one or two of the following:

From the stable of Fred Keijzer, from whom so many thought provoking contributions come, here is an essay on Robotics, Biological Grounding and the Fregean Tradition

A developmental perspective from Linda Smith and Mike Gasser (2005): “The Development of embodied  cognition: Six lessons from babies“, Artificial Life 11 (1-2), 13-29.

Louise Barrett contributes this excellent and entertaining article that covers several bases: Why Brains Are Not Computers, Why Behaviorism Is Not Satanism, and Why Dolphins Are Not Aquatic Apes“, Behavioral Analyst, 2015.

If rhythm is your thing, this is a great study: MacDougall, H. G. and Moore, S. T. (2005) “Marching to the beat of a different drummer: The spontaneous tempo of human locomotion“, J. App. Physiol. 99(3).  It identifies a 2 Hz component as a strong feature of aggregate human movement.  It finds the same bias in our musical preferences.

A bird’s eye view: M. Anderson (2005) “How to study the mind: An introduction to embodied cognition,”  Chapter 5 of Embodied Cognition and Perceptual Learning in Adaptive Development

A rather comprehensive and thoughtful account is provided in Chrisley, R. and Ziemke, T. (2003) Embodiment. In: Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science. Macmillan Publishing, New York. ISBN 0470016191.

The intimate relation between gesture and speech is worthy of your attention.  Iverson, J. M. and Thelen, E. (1999), Hand, Mouth and Brain: The dynamic emergence of speech and gesture.  J. Consciousness Studies, 6(11-12), pp. 19-40.

If that wasn’t enough, here is another thoughtful contribution: Wilson, M. (2002) Six views of embodied cognition. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 9:625-636

The examples provided by Braitenberg Vehicles are worth your attention. Based on Braitenberg, V. (1984). Vehicles: Experiments in synthetic psychology. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press