Saturday, February 02, 2008

Embodied Cognition

Recently this news article was brought to my attention.

a growing body of new research suggests that something more collaborative is going on - that we think not just with our brains, but with our bodies.
Being able to manipulate objects in a classroom helps children learn mathematics and spelling. Being able to gesture helps actors remember lines.
The greatest impact...has been in the field of neuroscience itself, where embodied cognition threatens age-old distinctions - not only between brain and body, but between perceiving and thinking, thinking and acting, even between reason and instinct - on which the traditional idea of the mind has been built.

what's going on inside the brain in large part may depend on what's going on in the body as a whole, and how that body is situated in its environment.
Motion is lotion, including mental lotion.

In other words, context is everything, not just for pain, for threat, but also for thinking and learning. This fits in well with ideas from Go Animal.


Patricia Kambitsch said...

This is very interesting.
I've tried a new morning practice since the beginning of the year. Every day I dance for at least the length of one song. Some days I dance hard, some days more gently, but I always dance spontaneously, allowing only the music and improvised motions to guide me. Afterwords I write down thoughts and feelings in a notebook. I've found that I am so full of ideas while I'm moving that I can't wait to get to the notebook. In fact, I some days my pen is unable to keep up with thoughts. This newfound fluidity is unusual for me early in the morning. Maybe I'm just more awake when I'm moving, but my sense is that my body is thinking. Not just my brain.
This is a much different experience than I've had dancing later in the day. Then, I'm much less able to switch to a verbal modality after dancing. Still, it feels like my body is thinking.

Diane Jacobs said...

The most reasonable explanation is that with more movement, more oxygenation is happening - the nervous system is only 2% of a human body (including that big brain we humans have, five times larger than needed to operate an mammal organism our size, a spinal cord, and 45 miles of nerves lacing through the body outward to skin, dropping off branches to muscles etc, along the way..), but this little 2% uses 20%(!) of all the oxygen taken it - a huge proportional discrepancy. The more we move the better fed it becomes.