Anna Maria Borghi


Titolo Pubblicato in Anno
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
EMBODIMENT AND LANGUAGE Embodiment and school 2020
A computational model of language functions in flexible goal-directed behaviour SCIENTIFIC REPORTS 2020
A future of words: Language and the challenge of abstract concepts JOURNAL OF COGNITION 2020
Words as social tools: language, sociality and inner grounding in abstract concepts PHYSICS OF LIFE REVIEWS 2019
Affordances, context and sociality SYNTHESE 2019
Sociality to reach objects and to catch meaning FRONTIERS IN PSYCHOLOGY 2019
Theories and explanations in psychology FRONTIERS IN PSYCHOLOGY 2019
Varieties of abstract concepts and their multiple dimensions LANGUAGE AND COGNITION 2019
Words as social tools: flexibility, situatedness, language and sociality in abstract concepts. Reply to comments on “Words as social tools: language, sociality and inner grounding in abstract concepts” PHYSICS OF LIFE REVIEWS 2019
Linguistic relativity and abstract words PARADIGMI 2019
Is the acoustic modality relevant for abstract concepts? A study with the extrinsic Simon task Perspectives on Abstract Concepts 2019
Abstract concepts and the activation of the mouth-hand effectors Perspectives on Abstract Concepts 2019
Different kinds of abstract concept. Le sotto-categorie dei concetti astratti: uno studio empirico SISTEMI INTELLIGENTI 2019
Beyond Embodied Cognition: Intentionality, Affordance, and Environmental Adaptation 2019
Theories and Explanations in Psychology FRONTIERS IN PSYCHOLOGY 2019
Chapter 2. Abstract concepts and the activation of mouth-hand effectors 2019
Action and object words are differentially anchored in the sensory motor system. A perspective on cognitive embodiment SCIENTIFIC REPORTS 2018


  • 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

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