Earbud next to a drawing of a group of little heart shapes

Feel the Beat: Music, Emotion & the Rhythm of the Heart

A cardiologist, a medical historian, and a musicologist analyzed several of Beethoven’s compositions for clues of a heart condition some have speculated he had … The rhythms of certain parts of renowned works, researchers say, may in fact reflect the irregular rhythms of Beethoven’s own heart caused by cardiac arrhythmia. [S]ays lead author Zachary D. Goldberger […]

In Your Mind’s Eye: Looking at the perception and conception of body metaphors

When two people are seeing eye to eye, they’re usually not literally standing face to face and staring at each other. However, new research suggests that hearing the previous sentence would probably activate an area of your brain responsible for the visual perception of body parts. Almost as if you were actually looking at two […]

Three ballerinas in group pose

Feeling Our Bodies: Physical, emotional, and social awareness

There’s one thing always connecting us to our physical environment, our emotional experience, and our social relationships: our bodies. But what does this mean? How does the body simultaneously inform our physical, emotional, and social awareness? The research paper entitled “The specificity of the link between alexithymia, interoception, and imitation” offers a few insights into […]

Body-Mind Alignment: Yoga and the cultivation of voice

We’ve all heard about the mind-body connection. But what about body-mind alignment? In this interview, yoga and voice instructor Jurian Hughes describes yoga as the practice of unifying or aligning our feelings, thoughts, words, and actions. This alignment is essential to what she calls our authentic voice, or the “full, deep expression of ourselves.” Her […]

Mirror, Mirror: Using technology to break down the walls between us

We say it all the time: “I know how you feel.” But we don’t mean this literally. We can only try to describe or imagine how someone else feels. Someday, however, technology may help us understand how others feel in a truly embodied sense, which in turn may help us communicate in deeper, more emotionally […]

Puzzles, numbers, and the abstract functions of physical forms

We could say that cognitive development in any domain (movement, language, mathematics, etc.) is a process of literally and figuratively putting the pieces together. Different domains may involve different pieces, but perhaps the underlying patterns are really the same. Especially in the area of mathematics, should it be surprising that some of those pieces would […]

It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it: Behavior and design as communication

[O]ne cannot not behave. Now, if it is accepted that all behavior in an interactional situation has message value, i.e., is communication, it follows that … one cannot not communicate. Activity or inactivity, words or silence all have message value: they influence others and these others, in turn, cannot not respond to these communications and […]

Do sensory metaphors give language emotional flavor?

Metaphorical sentences may spark increased brain activity in emotion-related regions because they allude to physical experiences … Human language frequently uses physical sensations or objects to refer to abstract domains such as time, understanding, or emotion … “You begin to realize when you look at metaphors how common they are in helping us understand abstract […]

Systems of organization: Ladders, webs, and fractals as organizing structures

If we look carefully, we can see systems literally everywhere. But what exactly are we looking for? Why does our perspective matter? And how do different perspectives affect how we think about the world? There are all kinds of systems: physical (mechanical, infrastructure, environmental, physiological), social (political, economical, legal, health care), informational (ideological, mathematical, linguistic). […]

Why do you feel?: A case for the evolutionary benefits of the ability to respond to our internal physical states

| Research on transformation, adaptation, behavior, and interoception | One definition of learning is the ability to change our behaviors in response to our past experiences. A related dimension of learning involves the ability to respond in the moment to whatever changes are happening to us as well as whatever changes are physically, emotionally, and/or […]

Experience and Cognition Lab: Mind and Body

| What is the role of bodily experience in structuring the mind? | To what extent are concepts internalizations of perceptuo-motor interactions with the environment? My research addresses two related questions: how do mental simulations of physical experiences contribute to the instantiation of concepts online, and how does perceptuo-motor experience contribute to conceptual development? Meaning […]

Patterns of mind: How differences in languages and bodies influence different ways of thinking

| Do patterns in the ways we interact with the world affect cognition? | Daniel Casasanto’s research on linguistic and bodily relativity shows that they do. Specific features in our languages (for example, the types of metaphors commonly used) and our bodies (like whether we are right or left-handed) result in specific patterns in our […]

A sense of self: Interoception and its role in physical & emotional awareness of the body | A. Craig

We are often more aware of the external physical world all around us than we are of the interior physical world of our own bodies. And yet our awareness of the body and what it feels is a key element of our physical, emotional, and mental experiences of the world. This awareness is based on […]

The interconnectedness of our bodies and our minds | Antonio Damasio

Human beings have an innate capacity for pattern recognition. It is part of the ways our brains learn to process information we perceive from the physical world. However, perceptions only represent one level or scale of patterns. There are also associative patterns to be found in the interactions of perceptions and, at yet another level, […]

The hypothetical self: Experiementing with body, identity, and relationship

As one woman embodying a diverse range of characters, Sarah Jones helps her audiences discover different perspectives. Her performances provide us with a multifaceted lens to look through the eyes of others, a mirror in which to see ourselves, and a window into a whole new way of imagining the dynamics of body, identity, and […]

Karl Fast (Adaptive Path • UX Week 2015) | Embodied Understanding

As Karl Fast describes, embodied cognition is based on research that shows how “physical states of the body [including the body’s perception of the environment] can prime and alter conceptual states of the mind.” There are a number of hypotheses that attempt to explain and expand upon this research. Although different in many ways, both […]

Morgan Kelly (Futurity) | Did human speech start with monkey lip smack?

Two recent studies by Princeton University researchers suggest that the oral-facial component of human speech mirrors the rhythm, development, and internal dynamics of lip smacking, a friendly back-and-forth gesture performed by primates such as chimpanzees, baboons, and macaques. Reference Morgan Kelly (Futurity) | Did human speech start with monkey lip smack?

Beyond anatomy | Changing the way we think about the body and its parts

In her 2012 TEDx talk, Nina Tandon explains how our ideas about the body as a whole and parts have evolved “from body intact to body replaceable parts to growing pieces of the body that are living from scratch.” Her explanation also highlights the relevance of scale and the distinction between part-whole relationships at the […]

Onye Ozuzu (TEDxIIT) | Technology of the American dancing body

As a biracial, bicultural performing artist and instructor from Columbia College presenting at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Ozuzu skillfully weaves a multitude of narrative threads, providing evidence for the confluence of dance, body, culture, cognition, and technology to expressively argue her case for “movement as technology.” …and I was hooked on that activity, on […]

Daniel Wolpert (TED) | The real reason for brains

Neuroscientist Daniel Wolpert starts from a surprising premise: the brain evolved, not to think or feel, but to control movement. In this entertaining, data-rich talk he gives us a glimpse into how the brain creates the grace and agility of human motion. “We have a brain for one reason and one reason only, and that’s […]

Cecilia Heyes • Geoffrey Bird | Mirroring, association, and the correspondence problem

Watching you eating an apple, my brain activates the same motor neurons that are involved when I eat an apple. In cognitive science, this is referred to as mirroring – essentially when we see someone else perform an action, we mentally perform that action as well. There are a variety of theories which try to […]

Barbara Isanski • Catherine West (Association for Psychological Science) | The body of knowledge: Understanding embodied cognition

The cold shoulder. A heavy topic. A heroic white knight. We regularly use concrete, sensory-rich metaphors like these to express abstract ideas and complicated emotions. But a growing body of research is suggesting that these metaphors are more than just colorful literary devices — there may be an underlying neural basis that literally embodies these […]

Jann Ingmire (Futurity) | Kids ‘get’ math when they use their hands

Children gain a deeper understanding of math and perform better when doing a problem if they use hand gestures…In the abstract gesture group, children were taught to produce a V-point gesture with their fingers under two of the numbers, metaphorically grouping them, followed by pointing a finger at the blank in the equation… Children in […]

William Harms (Futurity) | Spatial skills hone kids’ number sense

Children who can fit shapes together to make recognizable objects are better at learning the number line and solving math problems, new research shows. The work is further evidence of the value of providing young children with early opportunities in spatial learning, which contributes to their ability to mentally manipulate objects and understand spatial relationships, […]

Jann Ingmire (Futurity) | Quiz scores go up when students feel physics

Students who physically experience scientific concepts understand them more deeply and score better on science tests, according to a new study. Brain scans showed that students who took a hands-on approach to learning had activation in sensory and motor-related parts of the brain when they later thought about concepts such as angular momentum and torque. […]

Sandra Blakeslee (The New York Times) | Mind Games: Sometimes a white coat isn’t just a white coat

If you wear a white coat that you believe belongs to a doctor, your ability to pay attention increases sharply. But if you wear the same white coat believing it belongs to a painter, you will show no such improvement… So scientists report after studying a phenomenon they call enclothed cognition: the effects of clothing […]

How we think: Grounded cognition shakes up psychology

So if someone’s describing a scene to you, and they’re describing how it looks and how it sounds and how it smells, you’re actually representing how it looks, sounds, and smells in your sensory systems… And then just the state of your body is also very important… So if you’re asked to evaluate a piece […]

Andrew Myers (Futurity) | Neurons send ‘rhythmic signals’ down spine

Our main finding is that the motor cortex is a flexible pattern generator, and sends rhythmic signals down the spinal cord…The brain has had an evolutionary goal to drive movements that help us survive. The primary motor cortex is key to these functions. The patterns of activity it displays presumably derive from evolutionarily older rhythmic […]

image of sychronous objects

From dance to data to objects: Visualizing choreographic structure

What else, besides the body, might physical thinking look like? — William Forsythe REFERENCE Animating choreography | Norah Zuniga Shaw We made this project. It’s called Synchronous Objects. And we call it a choreographic digitalization project. If you don’t know what that means, that’s ok. We kind of made it up. Basically, it’s [data] visualization […]