We Think With Our Bodies

New research in human thought processes has found that humans literally think with their bodies. (“Let Your Body Do the Thinking,” New Scientist, march 27th 2010) This is referred to as “embodied cognition.” Scientists have done a number of well-conducted studies showing that human activity affects what types of thoughts people are likely to have. For example, when creating random numbers, people tend to look downward and to the left when thinking of a small numbers, and up and to the right when thinking of larger ones.

Other studies found that when volunteers moved marbles in an upward fashion, they used more emotionally positively-laden metaphors in their speech. And the opposite was true to for those moving marbles in a downward direction.

Similarly, left-handers tend to identify things on the left more favorable than objects on the right, and visa-versa with right-handers.

These results suggest that our abstract thought is connected with physical movement and does not occur in isolation. This idea directly challenges those held by mainstream cognitive scientists who believe that thought occurs independently of our bodies or spatial settings.

I particularly find these results interesting as they seem to support the ideas espoused in Planetary Intelligence: mainly that intelligence always exists in a physical and ecological context, not in isolation. It also supports mind-body research like that of Candice Pert and Deepak Chopra who argue that thoughts continuously have physical impacts on our bodies.

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