About this Research Topic
In the last 10-15 years, the "embodied" and "grounded" cognition approach has become widespread in all fields related to cognitive science, such as cognitive and social psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, anthropology, computational modelling and robotics. According to this approach, our cognitive activity is grounded in sensory-motor processes and situated in specific contexts and situations. Therefore, in this view, concepts consist of the reactivation of the same neural pattern that is present when we perceive and/or interact with the objects they refer to. In the same way, understanding language would imply forming a mental simulation of what is linguistically described. This simulation would entail the recruitment of the same neurons that are activated when actually acting or perceiving the situation, action, emotion, object or entity described by language. In the last years a lot of evidence has been collected in favour of EC and GC view.
The aim of this Research Topic is twofold. First, it intends to give an idea of the field of embodied and grounded cognition in its broadness. We therefore intend to ask scientists of different disciplines (anthropology, philosophy, linguistics, cognitive and social psychology, neuroscience, computer science) to submit their proposals.
The second aim of this Research Topicis to focus on some challenges that in our opinion embodied and grounded theories of cognition need to face. First, we believe that one important challenge for EC and GC views is to account for the way the so-called "abstract concepts" and abstract words are represented. Evidence on the representation of concrete concepts and words is compelling, whereas evidence on abstract concepts representation is still too scarce and limited to restricted domains. We therefore welcome proposals dealing with this complex issue.
Second, we think that embodied and grounded theories of cognition would need to formulate more precise hypotheses, and that in general within the field a larger theoretical effort should be made. It is striking that, even if a lot of work in the field of computational modelling and robotics starts from an embodied approach, experimental and modelling work on embodied cognition remain somehow separate. We therefore welcome researchers to submit papers proposing models which might help to explain phenomena as well as to constrain and specify in more detail the predictions and the claims advanced within the framework of EC and GC theories.