Cognition in context: Evidence on affordances and verbal language

Flumini, Andrea (2014) Cognition in context: Evidence on affordances and verbal language, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Science, cognition and technology, 26 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/6449.
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This thesis investigated affordances and verbal language to demonstrate the flexibility of embodied simulation processes. Starting from the assumption that both object/action understanding and language comprehension are tied to the context in which they take place, six studies clarified the factors that modulate simulation. The studies in chapter 4 and 5 investigated affordance activation in complex scenes, revealing the strong influence of the visual context, which included either objects and actions, on compatibility effects. The study in chapter 6 compared the simulation triggered by visual objects and objects names, showing differences depending on the kind of materials processed. The study in chapter 7 tested the predictions of the WAT theory, confirming that the different contexts in which words are acquired lead to the difference typically observed in the literature between concrete and abstract words. The study in chapter 8 on the grounding of abstract concepts tested the mapping of temporal contents on the spatial frame of reference of the mental timeline, showing that metaphoric congruency effects are not automatic, but flexibly mediated by the context determined by the goals of different tasks. The study in chapter 9 investigated the role of iconicity in verbal language, showing sound-to-shape correspondences when every-day object figures, result that validated the reality of sound-symbolism in ecological contexts. On the whole, this evidence favors embodied views of cognition, and supports the hypothesis of a high flexibility of simulation processes. The reported conceptual effects confirm that the context plays a crucial role in affordances emergence, metaphoric mappings activation and language grounding. In conclusion, this thesis highlights that in an embodied perspective cognition is necessarily situated and anchored to a specific context, as it is sustained by the existence of a specific body immersed in a specific environment.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Flumini, Andrea
Dottorato di ricerca
Scuola di dottorato
Scienze umanistiche
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
Cognition, concept, perception, action, embodiment, grounding, situatedness, flexibility, context, experience, simulation, motor resonance, symbol, affordance, compatibility effect, manipulation, function, social, verbal language, concrete, abstract, metaphor, iconicity, sound-symbolism, language evolution.
Data di discussione
28 Maggio 2014

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