It is in the area of cognition that the difference between embodied and traditional approaches is perhaps clearest.
Tradition approaches to cognition see it as either totally disconnected from any physical element – or as a function purely of the brain (with perhaps interference coming other physical parts of our bodies).
Embodied cognition regards cognition as being fundamentally grounded in our bodies, physical reality and actions.
Embodiment thesis: Many features of cognition are embodied in that they are deeply dependent upon characteristics of the physical body of an agent, such that the agent’s beyond-the-brain body plays a significant causal role, or a physically constitutive role, in that agent’s cognitive processing.—RA Wilson and L Foglia, Embodied Cognition in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Wikipedia)
- The concept is closely related to the idea of situated learning, which not only places learning in the physical realm – but also embeds it into social situations.
- There are a number of developments in cognitive studies and learning theory based on the concept. One particularly influential writer is George Lackoff whose work on Metaphors we Live By argues that cognition is metaphorical and that all metaphors are based on physical metaphors, and has been influential in a number of areas, particularly mathematics education.
- One very practical area of study in this area is the importance of gestures in teaching and learning.