How Cognition is Displayed in Both Mind and Body
Embodied cognition could be described as a theory of “thought connectivity.” Essentially, this theory means accepting there are two separate entities in thought which work together in a kind of parallel series. In a simpler sense: there is the mind and then there is the body, but they are operating together in equal unison. In the case of being parallel, they are equal in terms of influence. That is, “the mind thinks” and “the body reacts,” but also “the body thinks” and influences the mind equally. It may be counter-intuitive, but it makes a lot of sense in a variety of facets. For instance, there are muscle memories, which might be considered one of the easiest examples of embodied cognition. Some of this could be based within the reptilian brain, while others might have been learned in an artform such as dance or a sport. There are then cognitive thoughts which are most certainly derived due to action of the body. For instance, getting burned can lead to instant thoughts of pain, revolt from the heat source, and future fear. There are other fine examples of action leading to thought, such as response to light stimuli, substances, or witnessing emotionally distress. Embodied cognition can be recognized in these fashions as early as childhood as a youngster’s perception-taking ability begins to form (Hirai et al., 2020).
Embodied cognition is of course a two-way street, also panning true in terms of the mind influencing the body. It is easier to understand this side, as most people could easily be convinced that most actions our body might take are a result of a precursive cognitive thought. Human beings often think about actions before they take them. They think about walking before they walk, they think about talking before they talk, and they think about jumping before they jump. Forming perceptions about the body (understanding that our legs are used for many things, or our verbal skills can be used for many other things), could be considered a deeper layer of embodied cognition. It could almost be described as a sort of “transcendence,” or the concept that there is almost a spiritual layer in between thought and action, and again between action and thought. Many new studies are proving embodied cognition is present in some of the most simplest of tasks and perceptions, even in children (Manoel et al., 2016). This concept creates categories of bodily interactions, perceptions about the world, understandings about the motor system, and ideas and assumptions about the environment and world in whole.
While most philosophical and psychological perspectives may take the general stance that the body is merely a peripheral to the mind, the idea of embodied cognition considers it a more equal proponent of cognition. And the action which results from embodied cognition can be considered a sort of “cognitive currency” which may make it easier to understand how the two related to one another (the mind and the body). This will allow new empirical research and studies to outline thought and action in a new light, a light which might help better understand the HOW and WHY of decision making entirely. New data has proposed that there are spiritual complexes built into this theory, such as religion. Specifically, these propositions indicate that the religious shaping of spiritual beings, moral intuitions, and bonding within religious groups may lie within this embodied cognition (Soliman et al., 2015).
Hirai, M., Muramatsu, Y. and Nakamura, M. (2020), Role of the Embodied Cognition Process in Perspective‐Taking Ability During Childhood. Child Dev, 91: 214-235. doi:10.1111/cdev.13172
Manoel, E. de J., Viana Felicio, P. F., Makida-Dionísio, C., Nascimento Soares, R. D., Freitas, A., & Gimenez, R. (2016). Proprioceptive-Visual Integration and Embodied Cognition: A Developmental Perspective. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 123(2), 460–476. https://doi.org/10.1177/0031512516664722 Soliman, T. M., Johnson, K. A., & Song, H. (2015). It’s Not “All in Your Head”: Understanding Religion From an Embodied Cognition Perspective. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 10(6), 852–864. https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691615606373