Grounded cognition.
Barsalou, L. W. (2008). Annual Review of Psychology, 59, 617-645.
• Grounded theories versus amodal
– Recapitulation of the sensory environment
through simulation.
– Simulation is different mental imagery.
– Embodied versus Grounded Cognition:
• Mistaken assumption that bodily states are necessary
for cognition.
• Correct assumption that conceptual representation is
connected to perceptual experience.
Misconceptions about grounding.
• Grounded theories are not strictly empiricist.
• Grounded theories are seen as passive
information capture, void of computation.
• Grounded theories utilize more than sensory
motor experience.
• Grounded theories do not depend on bodily
states or complete simulation of experience.
Theories of grounding.
• Cognitive Linguistic (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980):
– Abstract concepts are built metaphorically
through percepts.
– Boroditsky, L. & Ramscar, M. (2002). The Roles of
Body and Mind in Abstract Thought. Psychological
Science, 13, 185-189.
Boroditsky and Ramscar.
• Wednesdays meeting is moved forward two
days. What day is the meeting now?
– Monday (time moving or allomotive).
– Friday (self moving or egomotive).
Boroditsky and Ramscar.
Boroditsky and Ramscar.
Boroditsky and Ramscar.
Theories of grounding.
• Cognitive Linguistic (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980).
• Situated Action Theories (Clark, 1997):
– Perception and action are bound together during
goal achievement.
– Seems like the action affordances of Glenberg
(1979), but uses dynamic systems to explain
Theories of grounding.
• Cognitive Linguistic (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980).
• Situated Action Theories (Clark, 1997).
• Simulation Theory:
– Perceptual Symbol Systems (Barsalou, 1999).
• The interaction of language and simulation.
– Memory Theories (Glenberg, 1997).
– Social Simulation Theories (Goldman, 2006)
• Mirror circuits and the inference of intention.
• To empathize, we simulate our own emotional states.
Evidence of grounding.
• There’s a lot of it… but some examples:
– Perception action coordination (e.g., action
simulations speed object recognition, reaching and
grasping, etc).
– Perception of space is highly phenomenological.
– Property verification based on sensory attributes
– Neuropsychological evidence (e.g., visual lesions 
animal naming, motor lesions  tool naming).
– Neuroimaging (e.g., activation of sensory areas in
property identification).
Evidence of Grounding.
• Reasoning:
– Physical Reasoning
– Abstract Reasoning
• Goldstone, R., Landy, D., & Son, J. Y. (in press). A well
grounded education: The role of perception in science
and mathematics. Draft prepared for Symbols,
Embodiment, and Meaning Debate, held December 1618, 2005.
Goldstone et al.
3 * 4
* 4 + 2
2 * 6 =?
6 =?