Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 32583
Embodied Cognition and Its Implications in Education: An Overview of Recent Literature

Authors: Panagiotis Kosmas, Panayiotis Zaphiris


Embodied Cognition (EC) as a learning paradigm is based on the idea of an inseparable link between body, mind, and environment. In recent years, the advent of theoretical learning approaches around EC theory has resulted in a number of empirical studies exploring the implementation of the theory in education. This systematic literature overview identifies the mainstream of EC research and emphasizes on the implementation of the theory across learning environments. Based on a corpus of 43 manuscripts, published between 2013 and 2017, it sets out to describe the range of topics covered under the umbrella of EC and provides a holistic view of the field. The aim of the present review is to investigate the main issues in EC research related to the various learning contexts. Particularly, the study addresses the research methods and technologies that are utilized, and it also explores the integration of body into the learning context. An important finding from the overview is the potential of the theory in different educational environments and disciplines. However, there is a lack of an explicit pedagogical framework from an educational perspective for a successful implementation in various learning contexts.

Keywords: Embodied cognition, embodied learning, education, technology, schools.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI):

Procedia APA BibTeX Chicago EndNote Harvard JSON MLA RIS XML ISO 690 PDF Downloads 1556


[1] M. Wilson, “Six Views of Embodied Cognition”. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 9(4), 2002, 625–636. doi:10.3758/BF03196322.
[2] A. Clark, “An embodied cognitive science?” Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 3(9), 1999, 345–351. doi:10.1016/S1364-6613(99)01361-3.
[3] J. I. Davis, and A. B. Markman, “Embodied Cognition as a Practical Paradigm: Introduction to the Topic, The Future of Embodied Cognition”. Topics in Cognitive Science, 2012, 4(4), 685–691. doi:10.1111/j.1756-8765.2012.01227.x.
[4] W. Farr, S. Price, and C. Jewitt, “An Introduction to Embodiment and Digital Technology Research: Interdisciplinary themes and perspectives”. National Centre for Research Methods Working Paper, 2012, 1–18.
[5] D. Trninic, and D. Abrahamson, “Embodied Interaction as Designed Mediation of Conceptual Performance. In D. Martinovic, V. Freiman, & Z. Karadag (Eds.), Mathematics education in the digital era. Visual mathematics and cyberlearning, 2013, (Vol. 1, pp. 119–139). London: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-94-007-2321-4.
[6] A. Clark, “Pressing the flesh: A tension in the study of the embodied, embedded mind?” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 76(1), 2008, 37–59. doi:10.1111/j.1933-1592.2007.00114.x.
[7] K. Aizawa, “What is this cognition that is supposed to be embodied?” Philosophical Psychology, 28(6), 2014, 755–775. doi:10.1080/09515089.2013.875280.
[8] M. Kiefer, and N. M. Trumpp, “Embodiment theory and education: The foundations of cognition in perception and action”. Trends in Neuroscience and Education, 1(1), 2012, 15–20. doi:10.1016/j.tine.2012.07.002.
[9] C. Y. Chang, Y. T. Chien, C. Y. Chiang, M. C. Lin, and H. C. Lai, “Embodying gesture-based multimedia to improve learning”. British Journal of Educational Technology, 44(1), 2013. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2012.01311.x.
[10] K. J. Chao, H. W. Huang, W. C. Fang, and N. S. Chen, “Embodied play to learn: Exploring Kinect-facilitated memory performance”. British Journal of Educational Technology, 44(5), 2013. doi:10.1111/bjet.12018.
[11] G. Lakoff, “Explaining Embodied Cognition Results”. Topics in Cognitive Science, 4(4), 2012, 773–785. doi:10.1111/j.1756-8765.2012.01222.x.
[12] Y.-J. Lan, N.-S. Chen, P. Li, and S. Grant, “Embodied cognition and language learning in virtual environments”. Educational Technology Research and Development, 63(5), 2013, 639–644. doi:10.1007/s11423-015-9401-x.
[13] F.-R. Kuo, C.-C. Hsu, W.-C. Fang, and N.-S. Chen, “The effects of Embodiment-based TPR approach on student English vocabulary learning achievement, retention and acceptance”. Journal of King Saud University - Computer and Information Sciences, 26(1), 2014, 63–70. doi:10.1016/j.jksuci.2013.10.003.
[14] J. P. Spencer, S., Perone, and J. S. Johnson, “The dynamic field theory and embodied cognitive dynamics. Toward a unified theory of development: Connectionism and dynamic systems theory re-considered”, 2009, 86-118. doi:10.1093/acprof.
[15] H. L. Dreyfus, “The current relevance of Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology of embodiment”. The Electronic Journal of Analytic Philosophy, 4, 1996, 1-16.
[16] F. J. Varela, “Ethical know-how: Action, wisdom, and cognition". 1999, Stanford University Press.
[17] L. W. Barsalou, “Grounded cognition”. Annu. Rev. Psychol., 59, 2008, 617-645.
[18] G. Lakoff, and M. Johnson, “Philosophy in the Flesh. The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought”. In Primary Metaphor and Subjective Experience 1999, pp. 45–59. New York: Basic Books. doi:10.1590/S0102-44502001000100008.
[19] M. L. Anderson, “Embodied Cognition: A field guide”. Artificial Intelligence, 149(1), 2003, 91–130. doi:10.1016/S0004-3702(03)00054-7.
[20] D. Atkinson, “Extended, embodied cognition and second language acquisition”. Applied Linguistics, 31(5), 2010, 599–622. doi:10.1093/applin/amq009.
[21] A. M. Borghi, and F. Cimatti, “Embodied cognition and beyond: Acting and sensing the body”. Neuropsychologia, 48(3), 2010, 763–773. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2009.10.029.
[22] L. Smith, and M. Gasser, “The development of embodied cognition: six lessons from babies”. Artificial Life, 11(1-2), 2005, 13–29. doi:10.1162/1064546053278973.
[23] L. Foglia, and R. A. Wilson, “Embodied cognition”. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science, 4(3), 2013, 319–325. doi:10.1002/wcs.1226.
[24] D. J. Nguyen, and J. B. Larson, “Don’t Forget About the Body: Exploring the Curricular Possibilities of Embodied Pedagogy”. Innovative Higher Education, 2015, 331–344. doi:10.1007/s10755-015-9319-6.
[25] E. Osgood-Campbell, “Investigating the educational implications of embodied cognition: A model interdisciplinary inquiry in mind, brain, and education curricula”. Mind, Brain, and Education, 9(1), 2015, 3–9. doi:10.1111/mbe.12063.
[26] M. Merleau-Ponty, “Phenomenology of perception”. 2013, Routledge.
[27] N. A. R. Ayala, E. G. Mendívil, P. Salinas, and H. Rios, “Kinesthetic Learning Applied to Mathematics Using Kinect”. Procedia Computer Science, 25, 2013, 131–135. doi:10.1016/j.procs.2013.11.016.
[28] L. Malinverni, S. L. Brenda, and N. Pares, “Impact of Embodied Interaction on Learning Processes: Design and Analysis of an Educational Application Based on Physical Activity”. In Proceeding IDC ’12 Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children 2012, (pp. 60–69). New York: ACM New York. doi:10.1145/2307096.2307104.
[29] P. Kosmas, A. Ioannou, and S. Retalis, “Using Embodied Learning Technology to Advance Motor Performance of Children with Special Educational Needs and Motor Impairments”. In European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning, 2017, (pp. 111-124). Springer, Cham. doi:
[30] P. Kosmas, A. Ioannou, and S. Retalis, “Moving bodies to moving minds. A study of motion-based games in Special Education”. Tech Trends, 2018. doi: 10.1007/s11528-018-0294-5
[31] L. Bartoli, C. Corradi, F. Garzotto, and M. Valoriani, “Exploring motion-based touchless games for autistic children’s learning”. Interaction Design and Children, 2013, 102–111. doi:10.1145/2485760.2485774.
[32] P. Dourish, “Where the Action Is: The Foundations of Embodied Interaction” 2001, (Vol. 36). London, England: The MIT Press. doi:10.1162/leon.2003.36.5.412.
[33] A. Williams, E. Kabisch, and P. Dourish, "From Interaction to Participation: Configuring Space Through Embodied Interaction”. In M. et al Beigl (Ed.), UbiComp 2005: Ubiquitous Computing 2005, (pp. 287–304). Berlin: Springer - Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. doi:10.1007/11551201.
[34] A. Garg, “Embodied Cognition, Human Computer Interaction, and Application Areas. Computer Applications for Web, Human Computer Interaction, Signal and Image Processing, and Pattern Recognition, 342, 2012, 369–374. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-35270-6_51.
[35] X. Xu, and F. Ke, “From psychomotor to “motorpsycho”: learning through gestures with body sensory technologies”. Educational Technology Research and Development, 62(6), 2014, 711–741. doi:10.1007/s11423-014-9351-8.
[36] F. R. Sheu, and N. S. Chen, “Taking a signal: A review of gesture-based computing research in education”. Computers and Education, 78(SEPTEMBER), 2014, 268–277. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2014.06.008
[37] R. Flanagan, “Effects of learning from interaction with physical or mediated devices”. Cognitive Processing, 14(2), 2013, 213–235. doi:10.1007/s10339-013-0564-2.
[38] M. Have, J. H. Nielsen, A. K. Gejl, M. Thomsen Ernst, K. Fredens, J. T. Støckel, … P. L. Kristensen, “Rationale and design of a randomized controlled trial examining the effect of classroom-based physical activity on math achievement”. BMC Public Health, 16(1), 2016, 304. doi:10.1186/s12889-016-2971-7.
[39] F. Quek, and F. Oliveira, “Enabling the Blind to See Gestures”. ACM Trans. Comput.-Hum. Interact., 20(1), 2013, 1–32. doi:
[40] E. De Freitas, and N. Sinclair, “Diagram, gesture, agency: Theorizing embodiment in the mathematics classroom”. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 80(1-2), 2012, 133–152. doi:10.1007/s10649-011-9364-8.
[41] D. Abrahamson, R. G. Lee, A. G. Negrete, and J. F. Gutiérrez, “Coordinating visualizations of polysemous action: values added for grounding proportion”. ZDM, 46(1), 2014, 79-93.doi:10.1007/s11858-013-0521-7.
[42] M. Novack, E. L. Congdon, N. Hemani-Lopez, and S. Goldin-Meadow, “From action to abstraction: using the hands to learn math. Psychological Science, 25(4), 2014, 903–10. doi:10.1177/0956797613518351
[43] M. M. Riconscente, “Results From a Controlled Study of the iPad Fractions Game Motion Math”. Games and Culture, 8(4), 2013, 186–214. doi:10.1177/1555412013496894.
[44] W. Lee, C. Huang, C. Wu, S. Huang, and G. Chen, “The effects of using embodied interactions to improve learning performance”. 12th International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies (ICALT), July 4–6, 2012, (pp.557–559).
[45] W. O. Van Dam, M. Van Dijk, H. Bekkering, and S. A. Rueschemeyer, “Flexibility in embodied lexical-semantic representations”. Human Brain Mapping, 33(10), 2012, 2322–2333. doi:10.1002/hbm.21365.
[46] M. L. Anderson, M. J. Richardson, and A. Chemero, “Eroding the Boundaries of Cognition: Implications of Embodiment”. Topics in Cognitive Science, 4(4), 2012, 717–730. doi:10.1111/j.1756-8765.2012.01211.x.
[47] A. N. Antle, and A. F. Wise, “Getting down to details: Using theories of cognition and learning to inform tangible user interface design”. Interacting with Computers, 25(1), 2013, 1–20. doi:10.1093/iwc/iws007.
[48] K. Dijkstra, A. Eerland, J. Zijlmans, and L. S. Post, “Embodied cognition, abstract concepts, and the benefits of new technology for implicit body manipulation”. Frontiers in Psychology, 2014. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00757.
[49] A. Glenberg, J. Witt, and J. Metcalfe, “From the Revolution to Embodiment 25 Years of Cognitive Psychology”. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 8(5), 2013, 573–585. doi:10.1177/1745691613498098.
[50] D. Kirsh, “Embodied cognition and the magical future of interaction design”. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, 20(1), 2013, 3:1–3:30. doi:10.1145/2442106.2442109.
[51] R. Núñez, “On the Science of Embodied Cognition in the 2010s: Research Questions, Appropriate Reductionism, and Testable Explanations”. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 21(2), 2012, 324–336. doi:10.1080/10508406.2011.614325.
[52] M. A. Evans, and J. Rick, “Handbook of Research on Educational Communications and Technology”. In M. J. Spector, J. M., Merrill, M. D., Elen, J., Bishop (Ed.), Handbook of Research on Educational Communications and Technology 2014, (Fourth Edi., pp. 689–701). New York: Springer New York Heidelberg Dordrecht London. doi:10.1007/978-1-4614-3185-5.
[53] R. M. Willems, and J. C. Francken, “Embodied cognition: Taking the next step”. Frontiers in Psychology, 3(DEC), 2012, 2–4. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00582
[54] R. Hall, and R. Nemirovsky, “Introduction to the Special Issue: Modalities of Body Engagement in Mathematical Activity and Learning”. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 21(2), 2012, 207–215. doi:10.1080/10508406.2011.611447.
[55] I. C. Hung, L. I. Lin, W. C. Fang, and N. S. Chen, “Learning with the body: An embodiment-based learning strategy enhances performance of comprehending fundamental optics”. Interacting with Computers, 26(4), 2014, 360–371. doi:10.1093/iwc/iwu011.
[56] G. Altanis, M. Boloudakis, S. Retalis, and N. Nikou, “Children with Motor Impairments Play a Kinect Learning Game: First Findings from a Pilot Case in an Authentic Classroom Environment”. Interaction Design and Architecture(s) Journal - IxD&A, (19), 2013, 91–104.
[57] S. Price, G. Roussos, T. P. Falcão, and J. G. Sheridan, “Technology and embodiment: Relationships and implications for knowledge, creativity and communication”. Beyond Current Horizons, (May), 2009, 1–22. Retrieved from
[58] R. Lindgren, and M. Johnson-Glenberg, “Emboldened by Embodiment Six Precepts for Research on Embodied Learning and Mixed Reality”. Educational Researcher, 42(8), 2013, 445–452. doi:10.31020013189X13511661.
[59] P. Kosmas, A. Ioannou, and P. Zaphiris. “Implementing embodied learning in the classroom: Effects on children’s memory and language skills”, 2018. In Valjataga T. & Laanpere M. (eds) Digital turn in schools: Research, Policy, Practice. ICEM 2018. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Springer (to be published).