Embodied Processing at Six Linguistic Granularity Levels: A Consensus Paper

Anita Körner, Mauricio Castillo, Linda Drijvers, Martin H. Fischer, Fritz Günther, Marco Marelli, Olesia Platonova, Luca Rinaldi, Samuel Shaki, James P. Trujillo, Oksana Tsaregorodtseva, Arthur M. Glenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Language processing is influenced by sensorimotor experiences. Here, we review behavioral evidence for embodied and grounded influences in language processing across six linguistic levels of granularity. We examine (a) sub-word features, discussing grounded influences on iconicity (systematic associations between word form and meaning); (b) words, discussing boundary conditions and generalizations for the simulation of color, sensory modality, and spatial position; (c) sentences, discussing boundary conditions and applications of action direction simulation; (d) texts, discussing how the teaching of simulation can improve comprehension in beginning readers; (e) conversations, discussing how multi-modal cues improve turn taking and alignment; and (f) text corpora, discussing how distributional semantic models can reveal how grounded and embodied knowledge is encoded in texts. These approaches are converging on a convincing account of the psychology of language, but at the same time, there are important criticisms of the embodied approach and of specific experimental paradigms. The surest way forward requires the adoption of a wide array of scientific methods. By providing complimentary evidence, a combination of multiple methods on various levels of granularity can help us gain a more complete understanding of the role of embodiment and grounding in language processing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number231
JournalJournal of Cognition
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2023


  • embodied cognition
  • grounded cognition
  • language
  • situated cognition


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