Anna M. Borghi, Claudia Scorolli

Words as Tools that Extend Our Body

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Peripersonal space, tools, extended mind, language, embodied cognition.

The body, as the subject or the object of our experience, mediates all our interactions with the world. In contrast with traditional views, recent studies have shown that our sense of body is plastic and can be modified. In this perspective, a number of psychological and neuroscientific studies have demonstrated that, when humans and monkeys use an instrument to reach a target-object, an extension of their peri-personal space occurs. This extension effect has been demonstrated with monkeys and humans, with neglect patients and with controls, and with a variety of paradigms. In the last years, both neuroscientists and philosophers have proposed interesting parallels between tool-use and language. In this paper we propose that words, similarly to tools, enlarge our space of action and modify the sense of our body. We ground our proposal and discuss it also in light of recent behavioural studies and kinematic evidence, obtained in our lab, showing that words use leads to an extension of our peri-personal space. Implications of this proposal for embodied and grounded theories of cognition and for theories of extended mind are discussed.

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