On the Relation between Representation and Embodiment in Spatial Cognition

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Title: On the Relation between Representation and Embodiment in Spatial Cognition
Other Titles: Zu der Relation zwischen Representation und Verkörperung in Räumlicher Kognition
Authors: Kuske, Nicolas
ORCID of the author: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1054-6811
Thesis advisor: Prof. Dr. Peter König
Thesis referee: Dr. Tobias Meilinger
Abstract: The claim that neuronal activity represents properties of the world outside of the brain plays a fundamental role in most of cognitive science. Enacted embodiment is the name of a theoretical framework which purports cognition to be rooted in bodily action. To investigate the relationship between representation and embodiment, the work presented here focuses on reasoning processes involving spatial relations among objects which are not part of the cognizing agent’s body. These environmental spatial relations are called allocentric. After defining the term “representation,” a model of human cognition is developed which allows us to experimentally distinguish representation from computation and action in the brain. It is further argued that the relation of neural activity in areas classically considered sensory and motor is a fundamental organizational principle of the brain. Importantly, the structure of the relation also depends on the embodiment of the agent. Finally, a study is presented in which participants explored a virtual reality (VR) city in different embodiment conditions and on multiple days. After each exploration participants completed tasks asking for different allocentric spatial relations. Performance in the spatial tasks interacts with both exploration time and embodiment condition. The findings indicate allocentric spatial representations to be structured by bodily action. Remaining variance can be explained through individual differences in spatial aptitude. Embodiment cannot account for the individual levels of ability. In conclusion, bodily action only partially structures the cognitive processes which represent spatial relations among objects in the agent’s environment.
URL: https://repositorium.ub.uni-osnabrueck.de/handle/urn:nbn:de:gbv:700-202103304172
Subject Keywords: Representation; Embodiment; Spatial Cognition
Issue Date: 30-Mar-2021
License name: Attribution 3.0 Germany
License url: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/de/
Type of publication: Dissertation oder Habilitation [doctoralThesis]
Appears in Collections:FB08 - E-Dissertationen

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