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Under this traditional perspective, language understanding results in symbolic, abstract, propositions that are distinct from anything to do with ordinary bodily experience. But as with other aspects of higher-order cognition, cognitive science has now shown that embodied experience is essential to ongoing language understanding.

For example, Glenberg and Kaschak demonstrate what they call the action-sentence compatibility effect ACE. In one experiment, participants made speeded sensibility judgments for sentences that implied action either toward or away from the body e. Participants indicated their judgment by use of a button box which contained a line of three buttons perpendicular to the participant's body. Presentation of the sentence was initiated when the participant pressed the center button, and yes or no responses i.

Glenberg and Kaschak found an interference effect, such that comprehension of a sentence implying action in one direction e. This result suggests that understanding language referring to action recruits the same cognitive resources needed to actually perform the action. Participants were presented with sentences that implicitly referred to the orientation of various objects e.

The sentence "Put the pencil in the cup" implies a vertical orientation of the pencil. After each sentence, a picture was presented, to which participants answered whether the pictured object was in the previous sentence. For pictures that were contained in the previous sentence, the picture's orientation varied as to whether or not it matched the orientation implied by the sentence. Overall, participants responded faster to pictures that matched the orientation implied by the sentence than to mismatched pictures and sentences.

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This empirical finding was also interpreted as showing that people form analogue representations of objects during ordinary sentence comprehension, which is consistent with the simulation view of linguistic processing. In recent years, the above findings on non-metaphorical language processing have been extended to how people ordinarily understand metaphorical discourse.

More specifically, abstract ideas, such as "justice" are structured in terms of metaphorical mappings where the source domains are deeply rooted in recurring aspects of embodied experiences i. Many abstract concepts, across many languages are presumably structured via embodied metaphors e. Systematic analysis of conventional expressions, novel extensions, patterns of polysemy, semantic change, and gesture all illustrate how abstract ideas are, again grounded in embodied source domains.

People may, for instance, be creating partial, but not necessarily complete, embodied simulations of speakers' metaphorical messages that involve moment-by-moment "what must it be like" processes that make use of ongoing tactile-kinesthetic experiences Gibbs, b. More dramatically, these simulation processes operate even when people encounter language that is abstract, or refers to actions that are physically impossible to perform. Understanding abstract events, such as "grasping the concept," is constrained by aspects of people's embodied experience as if they are immersed in the discourse situation, even when these events can only be metaphorically, and not physically realized.

Gibbs et al. This suggests that the simulations used to understand the sentence, in this case involving a particular motion movement of what the roads does, interacts with people's eye movements. This simulation perspective on conceptual metaphor is generally consistent with claims that thought and language are continually situated within the interaction of brains, bodies, and world Gibbs b.

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Let's consider the idea that metaphoric language may be processed in terms of embodied metaphor via simulation processes by examining people's understanding of primary metaphors. For example, people frequently talk about their life problems as if they are physical burdens that they sometimes carry and must endure.

One popular internet blog, written by Pastor Claude Thomas instructs both youth ministers and laypersons about the importance of Christian based counseling for taking care of each other through. He writes,. Don't let them be crushed. Don't let them be destroyed. In the days of Jesus there was a religious group that was gifted at adding burdens to the already overburdened people. They were the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus said, "They bind heavy burdens hard to bear and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger" Mt. Don't increase burdens.

Make them lighter for people Develop the extraordinary skill for detecting the burdens of others and devote yourself daily to making them lighter. Some of the burdens people carry are spiritual. Some are physical. Others are mental. Then there are emotional loads that people carry We can help others who are carrying a heavy load These "primary metaphors" refers to metaphorical mappings arising from positive correlations in people's bodily experience.

These metaphorical correlations arise out of our embodied functioning in the world. In each case, the source domain of the metaphor comes from the body's sensorimotor system. The research was primarily aimed at experimentally investigating the psychological reality of the above mentioned metaphor by understanding further the nature of its source domain experiences with weights. In other to do so, five psycholinguistics experiments were devised and presented to 5 groups composed of 25 male and female university students, aged 18 to 25 years of age, speakers of Brazilian Portuguese.

Each of these five experiments are described in the next paragraphs. The first experiment, a word-choice questionnaire, contained questions related to bodily as well as psychological effects produced by weight related actions. Each question was followed by two words a positive and a negative one.

Participants were asked to choose the word which, in their opinion, best answered the question. An open question task tested further physical and psychological effects of weight related actions over the body. A set of 21 open questions about how dealing with heavy weights affects how the body physically feels or the person subjectively feels were presented. Describe how your body and the other person's body feel".

Each of these short texts were followed by two metaphorical sentences. Participants were to choose which sentence they believed was more adequate to the situation presented in the text. If, as Grady 24 puts it primary scenes are "minimal temporarily- delimited episodes of subjective experience, characterized by tight correlations between physical circumstance and cognitive response", it was hypothesized that presenting participants with physical descriptions of one's experience with weights was bound to allow, given two metaphorical sentences which denoted a possible cognitive link with the physical circumstance described, for a high level of agreement as regards the metaphorical sentence that most closely matched the scene described.

For example, given the following situation "I was holding up a suitcase which weighs over 50 pounds all by myself but then someone came along and helped me carry it", and the two metaphorical sentences which followed it a The new assistant has been a great help in easing off my workload, and b I feel burnt out with so much work to do, it was felt that people, were Grady right regarding the nature of the primary scenes, would choose, in the case of the given example, sentence a , since it is the metaphorical sentence directly related to the scene described.

Task four, a picture task which showed stick-men performing different tasks with weights, was subdivided into three subtasks: a word-choice task, in which participants had to choose from a given pair of words the one which best fitted the action presented in the drawing; task two, which required participants to produce new words to describe the depicted situation presented in the drawings and task three, in which they had to write short texts indicating which of the previously seen situations they would prefer to be involved in, and why. The aim of such tasks was again to find empirical evidence of the psychological nature of the metaphor under analysis.

It was hypothesized that if primary scenes are indeed characterized by tight correlations between physical circumstance and cognitive response, as Grady puts it, presenting participants with physical descriptions of one's experience with weights would allow, given two metaphorical sentences which denote a possible cognitive link with the physical circumstance described, for a high level of agreement as regards the metaphorical sentence that most appropriately matched the scene described.

Metaphorical sentences were categorized into highly related metaphorical sentences HRS , related metaphorical sentences RS , and unrelated metaphorical sentences US , depending on the degree of sentence relatedness to the scene presented. For example: "Patricia is overloaded with problems" was considered a highly related metaphorical sentence to the situation: "John carried the lb luggage alone"; whereas "John was relieved of his problems", was an unrelated metaphorical sentence to "Luke held up the lb load". Participants were asked to rate the metaphorical sentence which followed the situation presented on a seven point scale, where rate 7 meant highly related and rate 1, highly unrelated.

Data gathered from the whole set of experiments have consistently revealed that when solely physical aspects are at focus, weights are conceptualized as difficulties, however, when emotional or psychological aspects are at stake, this is no longer the case. This became evident in the word-choice and open question tasks Experiments 1, 2, and 4 , in which people, had to choose between word pairs, generate additional words or write small descriptions of weight related actions or situations.

When the body itself was the focus, participants, indeed, tended to choose words which denoted physical burden.


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For instance, when weight experiences involve other people, such as the transferring of a heavy weight onto someone else's shoulders or when such experiences may be conceived as the overcoming of obstacles, the presumed direct relation between source-target domains i. Interesting expressions produced were: "I would feel bad about giving someone a heavy weight", or; "I would not feel happy or o.

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This trend was absent from descriptions written by female participants, who tended to highlight the difficulties they would face in dealing with heavy weights. These findings appear to indicate that when social-culturally influenced subjective aspects of weight-related experiences are considered weights are not necessarily conceptualized as difficulties. Results for experiment three, on the other hand, show that participants tended to choose more often the metaphorical sentence more closely linked to a physical situation pertaining to primary scene of the metaphor. This was made evident by the t - test performed on the mean frequencies of participants' preferred choices.

Such a finding indicates that, as believed by Grady , there seems to exist coactivation between source and target domains of the metaphor.

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The last experiment, however, although similar in purpose to experiment three, revealed a rather contradictory picture. Statistical results for this experiment suggested that, contrary to Grady's theory of a link between perceptual and conceptual domains of primary scenes, people, in judging levels of relatedness between source and target domains, do not necessarily provide evidence as to the existence of such a link. This finding seems to contradict the positive result obtained for experiment three, as regards participants' preferences for highly related metaphorical sentences to given physical circumstances.

Overall results from experiments one through four suggest that it is reasonable to conclude that for mere physical effects of weights over the body, weight-related experiences are indeed conceived as difficulties. This leads us to believe in the existence of a bodily sensorymotor basis for the emergence of the metaphor. Such findings are relevant for at least two reasons. This leads us to conclude that claims regarding the universality of such metaphors should be taken with certain reserve.

Primary metaphors may, thus, be understood as emerging in two stages.


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