How does the brain represent the concept of red(ness)? How do you know the meaning of the word red? What does red mean for a congenitally blind person? The nature of concepts is a debated topic in cognitive neuroscience. Historically, theories based on embodied simulations of conceptual knowledge are contrasted with theories based on symbolic amodal representations. After decades of debates, however, even very basic questions concerning the nature of concepts remain unanswered.
In his talk, he will argue that we can move the field forward by (i) using causal experimental paradigms and (ii) relying upon on a theoretical paradigm that embraces both a “symbolic” and an “embodied” mind, but that is not a simple combination of the two. More in detail, he will explore to what extent people that experience the world in a different way (i.e. sighted and blind individuals) think in a different way, whether experience-dependent sensorimotor simulations play a causal role in some conceptual processes, and discuss a possible way-out from the dichotomy “embodied vs symbolic”.
Roberto Bottini works at the Center for Mind/Brain Sciences (CIMeC) at the University of Trento. Please find more about his work on: http://www.bottinilab.com
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