Reading Comprehension is Embodied: Theoretical and Practical Considerations

Abstract

In this review, I advance the embodied cognition movement in cognitive psychology as both a challenge and an invitation for the study of reading comprehension. Embodied cognition challenges theories which assume that mental operations are based in a common, abstract, amodal code of propositions and schemata. Based on growing research in behavioral and neuroscience, embodied cognition proposes that all cognitive activity is based in sensorimotor activity, opening exciting new vistas for research and practice. Exemplary embodied theories are summarized and compared including those of Glenberg, Barsalou, Lakoff and Johnson, Paivio, and others. Exemplary embodied educational applications to reading comprehension are reviewed. I propose that much reading comprehension research that cites an abstract theoretical basis is actually more consistent with the embodied perspective.

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Acknowledgements

This paper is dedicated to the memory of the pioneering cognitive theorist Allan Paivio (1925-2016). I would like to thank Art Glenberg, Wim Pouw, and an anonymous reviewer for their most encouraging and constructive assistance with earlier drafts of this paper.

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Sadoski, M. Reading Comprehension is Embodied: Theoretical and Practical Considerations. Educ Psychol Rev 30, 331–349 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10648-017-9412-8

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Keywords

  • Embodied cognition
  • Reading comprehension
  • Mental simulations
  • Mental images
  • Perceptual symbols
  • Educational applications