Grounded Cognition – 2-IKV-236/15

The course objective is to provide students with deeper insight into up-to-date research trends in cognitive science, from the perspective of various disciplines (psychological, neural and computational). The course focus is on grounded (embodied) cognition, and its relation to language. The course should also help students in their ability to interpret scientific papers, to formulate, present and defend ideas.

The course is a part of Master Programme in Cognitive Science.


Date Topic References
Introduction to language and concepts

slides1 slides2

♦ Wiki: Language
♦ Margolis E., Laurence S. (2014) Concepts, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Towards embodied cognition

♦ Wilson M. (2002) Six views of embodied cognition. Psychonomics Bulletin Review, 9(4), 625-636. slides
♦ Ziemke T. (2003) What's that thing called embodiment? Proc. of the 25th Annual Conf. of the Cog. Sci. Society, 1134-1139. (Maša)

Mirror neuron system and its role(s) in cognition

♦ Rizzolatti G. & Sinigaglia C. (2010) The functional role of the parieto-frontal mirror circuit: Interpretations and misinterpretations. Nature Rev. Neurosci., 11, 264-274. slides
♦ Casile A., Caggiano V., Ferrari P.F. (2011) The Mirror Neuron System: A Fresh View. The Neuroscientist, 17(5): 524-38. (Ena)

Common coding theory, motor simulation, mental simulation

♦ Smith A.H. (2006) Motor cognition and mental simulation. Chapter in Smith E. & Kosslyn S. (eds.): Cognitive Psychology: Mind and Brain, Prentice Hall, pp. 451-481. slides
♦ van der Wel R., Sebanz N., Knoblich G. (2013) Action perception from a common coding perspective. Chapter in K. Johnson and M. Schiffrar (Eds.), People Watching: Social, Perceptual, and Neurophysiological Studies of Body Perception, Oxford University Press (Rebecca)

Language as action

♦ Martin H. Fischer M.H., Zwaan R.A. (2008) Embodied language: A review of the role of the motor system in language comprehension. The Quaterly Journal of Exp. Psych., 61 (6), 825-850
♦ Arbib M., Gasser B., Barrès V. (2014) Language is handy but is it embodied?. Neuropsychologia, 55, 57–70. (Ozan + Viki)

Conceptual and linguistic systems - two theories

♦ Barsalou L. et al. (2008) Language and simulation in conceptual processing. In: de Vega, Glenberg & Graesser (eds), Symbols and Embodiment: Debates on Meaning and Cognition, OUP, 245-283. slides
♦ Evans V. (2009) Semantic representation in LCCM Theory. In: New Directions in Cognitive Linguistics, ed. By V. Evans & S. Pourcel. John Benjamins. (Dina + Alan)

Role(s) of language in cognition

♦ Mirolli M., Parisi D. (2009) Towards a Vygotskyan cognitive robotics: The role of language as a cognitive tool. New Ideas in Psychology, doi:10.1016/j.newideapsych.2009.07.001 slides
♦ Ohta S., Fukui N., Sakai K. (2013) Computational principles of syntax in the regions specialized for language: integrating theoretical linguistics and functional neuroimaging, Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, (Patricija)
♦ Sakai, K.L., Perlovsky, L., eds. (2015) Language and Cognition. Lausanne: Frontiers Media. The articles can be found here.

Symbol grounding problem

♦ Steels L. (2008) The symbol grounding problem has been solved, so what’s next?. In: de Vega, Glenberg & Graesser (eds), Symbols and Embodiment: Debates on Meaning and Cognition, OUP, 223-244. slides
♦ Coradeschi S., Loutfi A., Wrede B. (2013) A short review of symbol grounding in robotic and intelligent systems. Künstliche Intelligenz, 27:129–136 (Oskar)

Meaning as statistical covariation

♦ Landauer T., Dumais D. (2008) Latent semantic analysis, Scholarpedia, 3(11):4356. wiki
♦ Glenberg, A. M., & Mehta, S. (2008) Constraint on covariation: It’s not meaning. Italian Journal of Linguistics, 20, 33-53. slides
♦ Bruni E., Tran N.K., Baroni M. (2014) Multimodal distributional semantics. Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research, 49, 1-47 (Matej)

28.11. (Thu!)
Unification attempts

♦ Louwerse M. (2010) Symbol interdependency in symbolic and embodied cognition. Topics in Cognitive Science, 1-30
♦ Dove G. (2011) On the need for embodied and dis-embodied cognition. Frontiers in Psychology, 1:242 (Julia)

Grounding abstract concepts

♦Borghi A.M., Barca L., Binkofski F., Tummolini L. (2018) Varieties of abstract concepts: development, use and representation in the brain. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B, 373: 20170121
♦ Pulvermüller F. (2018) The case of CAUSE: neurobiological mechanisms for grounding an abstract concept. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B, 373: 20170129 (Milagros)

12.12. (Thu!)
Group presentations, summary available references


  • Activity during the semester (40%). This includes weekly submitting inputs to the moderator and an active participation during discussions.
  • Paper presentation and moderation (30%). You will select a topic for presentation (one of the papers in the syllabus), collect by email the inputs (one question or a discussion point) from other students in advance (until Saturday, 20:00), and organize them by topic. The inputs should be sent to the moderator, with the subject "author" (use the first author's surname). You will give a short intro and then moderate the discussion. The students will be divided into small groups.
  • Final group presentation (10%). You will prepare a group presentation (3-4 people) on a topic relevant for the course, something you would like to emphasize.
  • Final reflection (20%). You will write a two-page essay (30 lines per page), that will include answers to two points: 1. How you understood the main issues we dealt with (trying to include open questions, if any), 2. How the learnt content enriched your existing knowledge. Your paper (in PDF) can include references. Deadline: 15th January 2020 (delayed submissions will be penalized, by one point less per day).
  • Overall grading (in %): A > 90, B > 80, C > 70, D > 60, E > 50, else Fx.
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