Eroding the boundaries of cognition: implications of embodiment

Michael L. Anderson, Michael J. Richardson, Anthony Chemero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Citations (Scopus)


To accept that cognition is embodied is to question many of the beliefs traditionally held by cognitive scientists. One key question regards the localization of cognitive faculties. Here we argue that for cognition to be embodied and sometimes embedded, means that the cognitive faculty cannot be localized in a brain area alone. We review recent research on neural reuse, the 1/f structure of human activity, tool use, group cognition, and social coordination dynamics that we believe demonstrates how the boundary between the different areas of the brain, the brain and body, and the body and environment is not only blurred but indeterminate. In turn, we propose that cognition is supported by a nested structure of task-specific synergies, which are softly assembled from a variety of neural, bodily, and environmental components (including other individuals), and exhibit interaction dominant dynamics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)717-730
Number of pages14
JournalTopics in Cognitive Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • embodied cognition
  • dynamic systems
  • social coordination
  • modularity
  • faculty psychology

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