The inner body

NPR’s radio show Talk of the Nation has a discussion with Sandra and Matthew Blakeslee, authors of a new book on the neuroscience of the body and movement.

If you’re interested in the ideas of embodied cognition that we covered the other day, the discussion touches on many of the major findings in cognitive science that are feeding into this important area.

The book, called The Body Has a Mind of Its Own, has a website which is somewhat sparse on readable excerpts but does have links to some more interviews about the topic.

The host of the NPR programme is a bit taken by the idea of ‘body maps’ (called sensory or somatotopic maps in the scientific literature), where areas of the body are literally mapped by the brain to represent sensation and movement, and the Blakeslees get asked lots of variations on the question ‘how do body maps explain x, y and z’.

Of course, somatotopic maps are only one part of a complex brain system that perceives the outside world and allows us to act within it, but I wonder whether this is a sign that ‘body maps’ might be the new ‘mirror neurons’ and become a popular explanation for everything from winning the World Cup to finding a partner.

Either way, Sandra and Matthew Blakeslee do a great job of explaining the science and trying to draw out some of the complexities.

Link to NPR discussion.
Link to The Body Has a Mind of Its Own website.

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