Anna Maria Borghi


Titolo Pubblicato in Anno
Perspective in the conceptualization of categories PSYCHOLOGICAL RESEARCH 2021
Motor Inhibition to Dangerous Objects: Electrophysiological Evidence for Task-dependent Aversive Affordances JOURNAL OF COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE 2021
Is justice grounded? How expertise shapes conceptual representation of institutional concepts PSYCHOLOGICAL RESEARCH 2021
Abstract concepts in interaction: the need of others when guessing abstract concepts smooths dyadic motor interactions ROYAL SOCIETY OPEN SCIENCE 2021
Abstract words as social tools: which necessary evidence? FRONTIERS IN PSYCHOLOGY 2021
Differences and similarities in the conceptualization of COVID-19 and other diseases in the first Italian lockdown SCIENTIFIC REPORTS 2021
From affordances to abstract words: the flexibility of sensorimotor grounding BRAIN SCIENCES 2021
Washing your hands reduced your guilt: Evidence with an implicit semantic task GIORNALE ITALIANO DI PSICOLOGIA 2021
Embodied negation and levels of concreteness: A TMS study on German and Italian language processing BRAIN RESEARCH 2021
Abstract Concepts and Metacognition: Searching for Meaning in Self and Others Handbook of Embodied Psychology: Thinking, Feeling and Acting 2021
Does mastering of abstract words decline with age? EDUCATIONAL GERONTOLOGY 2021
Articulatory suppression delays processing of abstract words: The role of inner speech THE QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY 2021
Contextual modulation of preferred social distance during the Covid-19 pandemic SCIENTIFIC REPORTS 2021
Words have a weight: language as a source of inner grounding and flexibility in abstract concepts PSYCHOLOGICAL RESEARCH 2020
Sensorimotor and interoceptive dimensions in concrete and abstract concepts JOURNAL OF MEMORY AND LANGUAGE 2020
Touch me if you can: The intangible but grounded nature of abstract concepts BEHAVIORAL AND BRAIN SCIENCES 2020
Different kinds of embodied language: A comparison between Italian and Persian languages BRAIN AND COGNITION 2020
Overusing the pacifier during infancy sets a footprint on abstract words processing JOURNAL OF CHILD LANGUAGE 2020
Labels strengthen motor learning of new tools CORTEX 2020
Gender is a multifaceted concept: Evidence that specific life experiences differentially shape the concept of gender LANGUAGE AND COGNITION 2020


  • SH4

Interessi di ricerca

I am interested in the relationship between objects, concepts, and language, and in how we react to the actions of others. The general view underlying my research is that cognition is embodied and grounded, in the environment and in bodily states. Cognition emerges from goal-derived interactions between the organisms and the environment. This view stresses the role of action for cognition, and it considers perception, action, and cognition as strictly interrelated. I am also interested in interoception, the sensitivity to our bodily signals. 

1) Objects and affordances: I am interested in affordances, i.e. the idea that objects evoke actions and that we think of objects in terms of the actions we typically perform with them. I work on how affordances are flexibly modulated by the context: by the task, by the presence of other objects, of other people potentially interacting with objects. I am also interested in the affordances of novel objects for children and adults, in affordances of dangerous objects, and in the distinction between more stable and more variable affordances. 

2) Concepts: I am interested in how concepts, the minimal units of our knowledge, tap on sensorimotor and interoceptive experience. I work on how concepts are dynamically updated depending on our goals and interaction with the environment, and how concepts link to each other through conceptual relations (thematic, taxonomic, etc.). I am interested in differences within concept kinds -e.g. artifacts vs. natural objects. I am particularly interested in abstract concepts (see below). 

3) Abstract concepts. I work on how we acquire, use and represent in the brain abstract concepts, like "fantasy" and "think". I am convinced that explaining them represents a big challenge for embodied and grounded views and that this challenge has to be addressed by recognizing the important role language plays for cognition. I believe that because the members of abstract concepts are more heterogeneous and variable than that of concrete concepts, like "table", for their acquisition and use the role of the linguistic and social input is more crucial. Consistently, linguistic networks should be more activated in the brain for abstract than for concrete concepts, and abstract concepts should be more variable across languages than concrete ones. I am also interested in the differences within concept kinds since abstract concepts come in a great variety - from emotional and social concepts to spatio-temporal and numerical concepts, to spiritual and philosophical concepts. I believe that the challenge to account for abstract concepts should be addressed by studying concepts with novel methods, i.e. investigating them during their use in interaction. With various collaborators, we have proposed are currently refining a theory of abstract concepts, the Words As social Tools (WAT). 

4) Language. I am interested in three main aspects:

1) how language is grounded in the sensorimotor and interoceptive system, eliciting a simulation during language comprehension. I study how this simulation is sensitive to properties of the objects (e.g. object size, weight, orientation), of the actions (e.g. whether the action involves the hand, the mouth, the leg, or other body parts), situations, and emotions described through language 

2) how language impacts cognition, changing the way in which we conceive our body (I am convinced that words can expand our perceived bodily borders) and the way we perceive objects and entities in the environment;

3) how different languages impact cognition. I am interested in cross-cultural comparisons. 

5) Actions of others: Automatic imitation and motor resonance.

I am interested in how we respond when we observe actions performed by others, on when we put ourselves in their shows, and on the mechanisms underlying imitative and joint / complementary actions. 



Action recognition
conceptual categories
Abstract reasoning
Healthy ageing
connectedness with nature

Gruppi di ricerca

Gruppi di ricerca - Responsabile

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