Publication 2281

Kiverstein J. & Miller M. (2015) The embodied brain: Towards a radical embodied cognitive neuroscience. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 9: 237. Fulltext at
In this programmatic paper we explain why a radical embodied cognitive neuroscience is needed. We argue for such a claim based on problems that have arisen in cognitive neuroscience for the project of localizing function to specific brain structures. The problems come from research concerned with functional and structural connectivity that strongly suggests that the function a brain region serves is dynamic, and changes over time. We argue that in order to determine the function of a specific brain area, neuroscientists need to zoom out and look at the larger organism-environment system. We therefore argue that instead of looking to cognitive psychology for an analysis of psychological functions, cognitive neuroscience should look to an ecological dynamical psychology. A second aim of our paper is to develop an account of embodied cognition based on the inseparability of cognitive and emotional processing in the brain. We argue that emotions are best understood in terms of action readiness (Frijda, 1986, 2007) in the context of the organism’s ongoing skillful engagement with the environment (Rietveld, 2008; Bruineberg and Rietveld, 2014; Kiverstein and Rietveld, 2015, forthcoming). States of action readiness involve the whole living body of the organism, and are elicited by possibilities for action in the environment that matter to the organism. Since emotion and cognition are inseparable processes in the brain it follows that what is true of emotion is also true of cognition. Cognitive processes are likewise processes taking place in the whole living body of an organism as it engages with relevant possibilities for action.


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