Public release date: 17-May-2006
Contact: Jonathan Potts
Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon's Carnegie Symposium on Cognition will explore 'embodiment, ego-space and action'

PITTSBURGH--The Department of Psychology at Carnegie Mellon University will host the 34th Carnegie Symposium on Cognition June 2–4 in the Adamson Wing of Baker Hall. The event will feature talks by some of the world's leading cognitive scientists, who will discuss the concept of embodiment -- the idea that the way people perceive the world around them is influenced by their representations of themselves as part of that world. Increasingly, research demonstrates that embodiment is fundamental to both executing and understanding spatially directed action. It has been theorized to play a role in reaching and grasping, locomotion and navigation, infant imitation, spatial and social perspective-taking, and neurological dysfunctions as diverse as phantom limb pain and autism. Few formal explanations, however, have been put forward to describe how self-representation functions at a mechanistic level and what neural structures support those functions.
Behavioral research, neuroscience and developmental research have all made strides toward developing formal explanations for embodiment. Behavioral research has revealed a number of tantalizing outcomes that point to a role for the representation of the body in basic human function. Neuroscientists have identified multiple sensorimotor maps of the body within the cortex and specific brain areas devoted to the representation of space and place. Developmental researchers have identified neonatal behaviors indicating a representation of self and have traced the course of spatially oriented action across the early years. What is needed is a shared effort to merge perspectives of behavioral science, neuroscience, and developmental psychology in order to further understanding of the forms and functional roles of the embodied representation. The 2006 symposium will provide a forum by which researchers from these various perspectives can come together to share their findings, ideas and concerns.
This year's symposium is organized by professors Roberta Klatzky, Marlene Behrmann and Brian MacWhinney of the Carnegie Mellon Psychology Department. For a complete list of speakers and schedule of events, go to
The Department of Psychology is one of eight departments in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the second-largest academic unit at Carnegie Mellon. The college emphasizes interdisciplinary study in a technologically rich environment, with an open and forward-thinking stance toward the arts and sciences.