Handbook of Cognitive Science

An Embodied Approach

Edited by

  • Paco Calvo, Universidad de Murcia, Murcia, Spain
  • Toni Gomila, Universitat Illes Balears, Palma de Mallorca, Spain

The Handbook of Cognitive Science provides an overview of recent developments in cognition research, relying upon non-classical approaches. Cognition is explained as the continuous interplay between brain, body, and environment, without relying on classical notions of computations and representation to explain cognition. The handbook serves as a valuable companion for readers interested in foundational aspects of cognitive science, and neuroscience and the philosophy of mind. The handbook begins with an introduction to embodied cognitive science, and then breaks up the chapters into separate sections on conceptual issues, formal approaches, embodiment in perception and action, embodiment from an artificial perspective, embodied meaning, and emotion and consciousness. Contributors to the book represent research overviews from around the globe including the US, UK, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, France, Sweden, and the Netherlands.
View full description


Professionals, researchers, and advanced students in cognitive science, psychology, and philosophy.


Book information

  • Published: August 2008
  • Imprint: ELSEVIER
  • ISBN: 978-0-08-046616-3

Table of Contents



List of Contributors

1 Directions for an Embodied Cognitive Science: Toward an Integrated Approach

Cognitivism in a Blind Alley

Alternative Approaches to Cognitivism

Post-Cognitivism in the Making: Common Ground and Conceptual Issues

Scaling up: Higher Level Cognitive Processes


Section I The Interactive Architecture of Cognition: Conceptual Issues

2 Is Embodiment Necessary?


Interactive Representation

What Kind of Embodiment?


3 Embodiment and Explanation

Three Threads

The Separability Thesis

Beyond Flesh-Eating Functionalism

Ada, Adder, and Odder

A Tension Revealed

Participant Machinery and Morphological Computation

Quantifying Embodiment



4 Can a Swarm be Embodied?


Three Examples of Swarms

Artifi cial Swarms and Strong Embodiment

Is a Living Swarm an Embodied Entity?


Section II Robotics and Autonomous Agents

5 CajunBot: A Case Study in Embodied Cognition


CajunBot and the DARPA Grand Challenge, 2005

CajunBot Sensor Systems

Path Planning

Steering Control


CajunBot Performance and Results



6 The Dynamics of Brain-Body-Environment Systems: A Status Report


Experimental Accomplishments

Theoretical Accomplishments

Outstanding Challenges

7 The Synthetic Approach to Embodied Cognition: A Primer



Body Dynamics and Morphology

Information Self-Structuring

Learning and Development

Case Study 1: Embodied Categorization

Case Study 2: Application of Embodied Cognition to Prosthetics

Discussion: The Interaction of Physical and Information Processes


8 Animate Vision, Virtual Environments, and Neural Codes

Embodied Intelligence

An Avatar Control System Design

Summary: The Advantages of Embodied Cognition

Section III Perceiving and Acting

9 Ecological Psychology: Six Principles for an Embodied-Embedded Approach to Behavior

Ecological Principle I: Organism-Environment Systems are the Proper Units of Analysis

Ecological Principle II: Environmental Realities Should Be Defined at the Ecological Scale

Ecological Principle III: Behavior Is Emergent and Self-Organized

Ecological Principle IV: Perception and Action are Continuous and Cyclic

Ecological Principle V: Information Is Specificational

Ecological Principle VI: Perception Is of Affordances


10 Seeing What We Can Do: Insights into Vision and Action Through Observations of Natural Behavior


Methods of Assessing Visual Processes in Isolation and in Concert

Isolating Visual Processes Within an Embodied Context

Trade-Offs Between Gaze and Working Memory Use

Bridging the Gap Between Laboratory Experiments and Natural Behavior

Future Directions of Research in Embodied Visual Cognition

11 Why We Don’t Mind to be Inconsistent


Detecting Attributes

Spatial Perception

Inconsistent Action

Combining Information

Conscious Perception

Section IV A Dynamic Brain

12 Neuronal and Cortical Dynamical Mechanisms Underlying Brain Functions


How to Build a Suitable Neuronal Model for a Psychological Experiment

Calculating the f MRI Signal for an Example Set Shifting Model

Response Times and Error Rates in an Example Set Shifting Task

Summary and Back to “color phi”

13 Dynamic Field Theory as a Framework for Understanding Embodied Cognition

Dynamical Systems

Dynamic Neural Fields and Peaks as Units of Representation

Interactions Between Multiple Activation Peaks

Preshape in Dynamic Neural Fields

Categorical Behavior from Continuous Representations

Embodying Dynamic Neural Fields on Autonomous Robots


14 A Lazy Brain? Embodied Embedded Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience



The Computational Unfeasibility of a Brain in Complete Control

Ignorantly Successful in a User-Friendly Environment

Generating Research Questions for Cognitive Neuroscience and Robotics


Section V Embodied Meaning

15 The Role of Sensory and Motor Information in Semantic Representation: A Review


Direct Versus Indirect Engagement

A Brief Review of the Evidence


16 Embodied Concept Learning

How Concepts Are Learned

Evidence for Embodied Concepts

Learning Basic Words/Concepts

Learning and Using Abstract and Technical Words and Concepts


17 Mathematics, the Ultimate Challenge to Embodiment: Truth and the Grounding of Axiomatic Systems

Mathematics, a Real Challenge to Embodiment

Everyday Embodied Mechanisms for Human Imagination

Mathematical Abstraction: The Embodiment of Axioms, Sets, and Hypersets

Everyday Abstraction: The Embodiment of Spatial Construals of Time and Their “Axioms”


18 Embodiment for Education

Why Education?

Embodied Mathematics

Embodied Reading

PM and IM and Vocabulary Acquisition

PM and IM in Science Exposition


Section VI Scaling-Up

19 How Did We Get from There to Here? An Evolutionary Perspective on Embodied Cognition


Flexibility and Resemblance: Keys to Off-Line Embodiment?

Future Directions

20 Thinking with the Body: Towards Hierarchical, Scalable Cognition


Separating Mind and Body

The Phenomenon of Control

Control from Body to Mind

Integration Is Key



21 On the Grounds of (X)-Grounded Cognition

The Massive Redeployment Hypothesis

Implications of MRH for X-Grounded Cognition



Section VII Emotion and Social Interaction

22 Understanding Others: Embodied Social Cognition

An Embodied Approach

Implicit Simulation or Embodied Practices


23 Getting to the Heart of Emotions and Consciousness

Introduction: Descriptive Foundations and Animation

On the Distinction Between Behavior and Movement

Concepts Emanating from Movement

Affective Feelings

Dynamic Congruency