The role played by language in our cognitive lives is a topic at the centre of contemporary debates in cognitive (neuro)science. In this paper we illustrate and compare two theories that offer embodied explanations of this role: the WAT (words as social tools) and the LENS (language is an embodied neuroenhancement and scaffold) theories. WAT and LENS differ from other current proposals, because they connect the impact of the neurologically realized language system on our cognition to the ways in which (...) language shapes our interaction with the physical and social environment. Examining these theories together, their tenets and supporting evidence, sharpens our understanding of each, but also contributes to a better understanding of the contribution that language might make to the acquisition, representation and use of abstract concepts. Here we focus on how language provides a source of inner grounding, especially metacognition and inner speech, and supports the flexibility of our thought. Overall, the paper outlines a promising research program focused on the importance of language to abstract concepts within the context of a flexible, multimodal, and multilevel conception of embodied cognition. (shrink)
: This work focuses on emotional concepts. We define concepts as patterns of neural activation that re-enact a given external or internal experience, for example the interoceptive experience related to fear. Concepts are mediated and expressed through words. In the following, we will use “words” to refer to word meanings, assuming that words mediate underlying concepts. Since emotional concepts and the words that mediate them are less related to the physical environment than concrete ones, at first sight they might be (...) depicted as abstract concepts. Evidence coming from several studies shows, instead, that the issue is more complex. In this work, we will briefly outline the debate and illustrate results from recent studies on comprehension of concrete, emotional and abstract words in children and adults. We will argue that emotional words can be accounted for from a grounded perspective and will contend that emotional words represent a particular set of words that differs from both the concrete and purely abstract ones. Keywords: Embodied and Grounded Cognition; Abstract Concepts; Emotional Words; Language Acquisition; Language Processing La peculiarità delle parole emotive: un approccio basato sulla grounded cognition Riassunto: Questo lavoro si incentra sui concetti emotivi. Intendiamo qui per concetti i pattern di attivazioni neurali che riattivano un’esperienza interna o esterna, per esempio le esperienze interocettive collegate alla paura. I concetti sono mediati ed espressi dalle parole. Di seguito, useremo “parole” in riferimento al significato delle parole, assumendo le parole come veicolo dei concetti. I concetti emotivi e le parole che li esprimono, dal momento che sono meno legati all’ambiente fisico rispetto a quelli concreti, potrebbero essere a tutta prima classificati come concetti astratti. Molti studi invece mostrano come la questione sia più complessa. In questo lavoro illustreremo brevemente il dibattito e i risultati di recenti studi sulla comprensione di parole astratte, concrete ed emotive in bambini e adulti, per mostrare come una prospettiva grounded possa rendere conto delle parole emotive, sostenendo che queste rappresentano un insieme particolare di parole, diverse sia da quelle concrete che da quelle puramente astratte. Parole chiave: Embodied and Grounded Cognition; Concetti astratti; Parole emotive; Acquisizione del linguaggio; Processamento del linguaggio. (shrink)
We consider the ways humans engage in social epistemic actions, to guide each other's attention, prediction, and learning processes towards salient information, at the timescale of online social interaction and joint action. This parallels the active guidance of other's attention, prediction, and learning processes at the longer timescale of niche construction and cultural practices, as discussed in the target article.
Empirical evidence suggests a broad impact of communication mode on cognition at large, beyond language processing. Using a sign language since infancy might shape the representation of words and other linguistic stimuli – for example, incorporating in it the movements and signs used to express them. Once integrated into linguistic representations, this visuo-motor content can affect deaf signers’ linguistic and cognitive processing.