Embodying expertise as a performer and perceiver

insights from the arts and robotics

Emily S. Cross*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


When watching another person perform a highly skilled action, whether an Olympic diver executing a series of complex twists and somersaults or a professional chef tossing and stretching a ball of dough into a flawless pizza base, we are witnessing the outcome of what has likely been many hours of dedicated training, practice and trial and error learning. We are also observing the (highly refined) result of the human brain’s ability to translate perception into action, a fundamental biological process that is vital for us to survive and thrive in our complex social world. What is perhaps less often considered, however, is how our own embodied expertise and experiences shape how we perceive others in action. After presenting a brief overview of the history and state of the art on action-perception links from a psychological and neuroscientific perspective, I present a case for why examining experience-induced plasticity in action perception (as measured by behavioural and brain-based methods) is a fruitful avenue for studying the relationship between embodiment and expertise. I then highlight two separate research avenues that serve to highlight the scope and utility of studying embodied expertise: performing arts and robotics. Finally, this chapter concludes with some considerations for future neurocognitive research into the mechanisms supporting skill and expertise.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge handbook of philosophy of skill and expertise
EditorsEllen Fridland, Carlotta Pavese
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781315180809
ISBN (Print)9780367533373, 9781138744776
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NameRoutledge handbooks in philosophy

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