How does attention play a role in Embodied Cognition?

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Embodied Cognition is the idea that our cognitions are affected by the body, not just the brain. In other words, the brain affects the body, and the brain also receives feedback from the body. According to Margaret Wilson (see the source below), attention plays a role in Embodied Cognition because the mind has limits with regard to attention and working memory. Therefore, the brain must relegate some functions of attention to the environment. For example, we can't pay attention to everything we must do and we can't store all this information in our long-term memory, so we store this information in calendars (both on paper and in electronic form). This allows us to reduce the load on our memory and attention and to pay attention to other elements of our environment. 

In addition, attention plays a role in Embodied Cognition because people have to be paying attention to their environment for the body and environment to provide feedback to the brain. In the experiment described by Wilson and Golonka (2013; see the source below), infants who watch a toy being hidden must then retrieve the toy. Infants' ability to retrieve the toy depends on their ability to pay attention; therefore, one's ability to pay attention affects one's ability to receive feedback from the environment.  

Wilson, Margaret (2002). "Six Views of Embodied Cognition." Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. 9 (4): 625–636. doi:10.3758/BF03196322.

Wilson, Andrew D. and Sabrina Golonka (2013). "Embodied Cognition is Not What you Think." Front Psychol. 2013; 4: 58. Published online 2013 Feb 12. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00058.