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MCAT

Unit 4: Lesson 1

Foundations of behavior passages

Embodied cognition, hockey, does expertise impact text understanding?

Problem

An underlying belief in the theory of embodied cognition is that the understanding of cognition must include the interaction of the environment with the body. Proponents argue that human cognition evolved from primary sensorimotor processing and this necessitates understanding cognitive mechanisms as an interaction between the mind and body. An example of embodied cognition can be seen in mental imagery. There is strong evidence in favor of the visual imagery of an action conflicting with the performance of that action, such as visualizing an ‘X’ while writing an ’O’. Memory is also believed to be embodied. Proponents of theories of embodied cognition view memory as a representation of the event or object, linked to the sensorimotor information, which defines the possibilities of that event or object.
To test whether sensorimotor experience aids decision making, researchers asked professional hockey players and people unfamiliar with hockey to read aloud either sentences that described hockey-specific situations or situations encountered in a normal day. An example of a hockey specific situation was reading the sentence “the player knocked over the net” and a picture of a hockey net tipped over (match) or right side up (mismatch) was displayed. An example of a situation encountered in a normal day was “an umbrella was put into the closet”, with a closed (match) or open (mismatch) umbrella pictured. The subject pressed a button to indicate the sentence had been read; a fixation point was shown for 500 msec before a picture was displayed. The time was recorded between the picture presentation and the response of match or mismatch. Figure 1 shows the data from this experiment.
Figure 1: The mean accuracy for matched and mismatched sentence/picture combinations for expert hockey players and people unfamiliar with hockey. Results for both hockey and nonhockey related scenarios are displayed.
Adapted from: Holt, L. E., & Beilock, S. L. (2006). Expertise and its embodiment: Examining the impact of sensorimotor skill expertise on the representation of action-related text. Psychonomic bulletin & review, 13(4), 694-701. Which conclusion do the results shown in Figure 1 support?
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