Saturday, 5 December 2009

Embodied Cognition: Using Movement to Understand the Mind

This study is interesting as it provides an insight into the midwifery maxim first articulated by Ina May Gaskin "fix the mind, fix the body; fix the body, fix the mind". Ina May's midwifery maxim points to a deep understanding of how the nervous system is an embodied system. When we get an appreciation of how the way we think and feel affects the way our body functions, not just in gross physical communication movements but at all levels of movement, (including cellular communication, chemical communication etc) throughout the body, we come to see that attending to the holistic aspects of being is the best way to optimise health.

A clear understanding of the way the mind and the body are inextricably interconnected and integrated helps to explain why midwives work with childbearing women to meet childbearing women's emotional, physical, spiritual, cultural and psychological needs and desires regarding the births of their babies. What some people refer to as 'woo woo' psychobabble or pseudoscience is actually sound midwifery practice.

Embodied Cognition: Using Movement to Understand the Mind

"Interpersonal communication is more than just the exchange of words. Speech, gaze and body coordination are all utilized during conversation. A common example, such as hand gesturing while speaking, shows effective communication is more than just a linguistic dynamic.

This phenomenon, called embodied communication, is the focus of a new study by University of Cincinnati professors in the Department of Psychology.

“Collaborative Research: Dynamics of Interpersonal Coordination and Embodied Communication” is a $418,809 National Science Foundation grant given to Associate Professors Kevin Shockley, Michael Riley and Assistant Professor Michael Richardson to understand coordination of thought by studying coordination of action.

“We’re using movement as a window to understand how people coordinate their thinking,” says Shockley, the principal investigator for the study. “Normally people don’t think of movement when they hear about psychology, but that’s unfortunate because the embodied cognition approach illustrates so nicely how movement is integral to our understanding of the mind.”

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