Embodied cognition and beyond: acting and sensing the body

Neuropsychologia. 2010 Feb;48(3):763-73. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2009.10.029. Epub 2009 Nov 11.


Embodied cognition (EC) underlines that cognition is constrained by the kind of body we possess, and stresses the importance of action for cognition. In this perspective the body is always considered as an acting body. Here, we review EC literature discussing studies that show that body parts are not considered independent of their involvement in action. We propose to extend EC perspective through studying the body independently from its direct involvement in goal-directed action. Through this we aim to avoid the risk of limiting the notion of "sense of the body" to the restricted boundaries of the flesh of brain-body system. In our extended perspective language is considered as a form of action too. We propose that: (a) internal language (i.e. social language used as an internal medium for thought and planning) can contribute to form a unitary sense of our body, and (b) language can help to reshape the way we implicitly perceive our own body. Namely, it can modify our sense of body by extending its boundaries beyond the boundaries of the anatomical body. We argue for an integrated notion of bodily self-suggesting that the internal sense and the boundaries of the human body coincide with the extensions that linguistic tools allow. In sum, the basic idea we hold is that human body is a social entity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Body Image*
  • Cognition*
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Models, Psychological
  • Movement*
  • Psychological Theory
  • Self Concept*
  • Social Behavior
  • Social Perception