Eroding the Boundaries of Cognition: Implications of Embodiment

Authors

  • Michael L. Anderson,

    1. Department of Psychology, Franklin & Marshall College
    2. Institute for Advanced Computer Studies, Neuroscience and Cognitive Science Program, University of Maryland
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  • Michael J. Richardson,

    1. Center for Cognition, Action & Perception, Department of Psychology, University of Cincinnati
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  • Anthony Chemero

    1. Department of Psychology, Franklin & Marshall College
    2. Department of Psychology and Department of Philosophy, University of Cincinnati
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should be sent to Michael L. Anderson, Department of Psychology, Franklin & Marshall College, P.O. Box 3003, Lancaster, PA 17604-3003. E-mail: michael.anderson@fandm.edu

Abstract

To accept that cognition is embodied is to question many of the beliefs traditionally held by cognitive scientists. One key question regards the localization of cognitive faculties. Here we argue that for cognition to be embodied and sometimes embedded, means that the cognitive faculty cannot be localized in a brain area alone. We review recent research on neural reuse, the 1/f structure of human activity, tool use, group cognition, and social coordination dynamics that we believe demonstrates how the boundary between the different areas of the brain, the brain and body, and the body and environment is not only blurred but indeterminate. In turn, we propose that cognition is supported by a nested structure of task-specific synergies, which are softly assembled from a variety of neural, bodily, and environmental components (including other individuals), and exhibit interaction dominant dynamics.

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