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date: 03 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Embodied approaches to language comprehension hold that the understanding of language is firmly rooted in the body’s systems of perception and action planning. This is true both for the lower level processing of language (e.g., speech sounds are understood in part through knowledge of the actions needed to produce those sounds) and for the higher level processing that constitutes deeper comprehension (e.g., “mental models” of the text are taken to be sensorimotor simulations of the events that are described). This essay provides an overview of the embodied approach to language. To begin, we present a broad theoretical discussion of the embodied perspective on cognition. Next, the growing literature supporting this approach to comprehension is reviewed. Finally, further directions of exploration for the embodied approach are considered.

Keywords: embodied cognition, language comprehension, perception, action, evolution of language

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