Anna Maria Borghi


Titolo Pubblicato in Anno
An embodied and grounded view on concepts and its possible implications for education Embodied cognition. Theories and applications in education science 2017
Reaching for objects or asking for them. Distance estimation in 7- to 15-year-old children JOURNAL OF MOTOR BEHAVIOR 2016
Affordance processing in segregated parieto-frontal dorsal stream sub-pathways NEUROSCIENCE AND BIOBEHAVIORAL REVIEWS 2016
Grounding abstractness: Abstract concepts and the activation of the mouth FRONTIERS IN PSYCHOLOGY 2016
Changing ideas about others' intentions: updating prior expectations tunes activity in the human motor system SCIENTIFIC REPORTS 2016
Il cervello in azione. Introduzione alle nuove scienze della mente Il cervello in azione. Introduzione alle nuove scienze della mente 2016
How abstract is risk for workers? Expertise, context and introspection in abstract concepts RETI SAPERI LINGUAGGI 2016
Commentary: Weighty data: Importance information influences estimated weight of digital information storage devices FRONTIERS IN PSYCHOLOGY 2016
How do you hold your mouse? Tracking the compatibility effect between hand posture and stimulus size PSYCHOLOGICAL RESEARCH 2015
Naming a Lego world. The role of language in the acquisition of abstract concepts PLOS ONE 2015
The modality-switch effect: Visually and aurally presented prime sentences activate our senses FRONTIERS IN PSYCHOLOGY 2015
Learning to manipulate and categorize in human and artificial agents. COGNITIVE SCIENCE 2015
Square bananas, blue horses: the relative weight of shape and color in concept recognition and representation FRONTIERS IN PSYCHOLOGY 2015
Stable and variable affordances are both automatic and flexible FRONTIERS IN HUMAN NEUROSCIENCE 2015
The visual encoding of tool-object affordances NEUROSCIENCE 2015
Wat (words as social tools). Una prospettiva socio-corporea sulla cognizione umana SISTEMI INTELLIGENTI 2015
Neural adaptation effects in conceptual processing BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES 2015
Embodiment theory International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences 2015
An embodied and grounded perspective on concepts Epistemology of ordinary knowledge 2015


  • 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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