By Margaret Wilson, Department of Psychology, University of California, Santa Cruz in Psychonomic Bulletin & Review
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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