Thanks to an academic discipline called Embodied Cognition, there’s a growing amount of research available about how people think with their whole bodies.
Since body/mind collaboration is right up the MuseCubes alley, we’ll collect many of these articles here, for your edification and enjoyment.
This Boston Globe article from 2008 provides a nice summary about the field of embodied cognition, including some interesting research that proves we think with our whole bodies, not just our brains:
WHEN YOU READ something confusing, or work a crossword puzzle, or try to remember where you put your keys, what do you do with your body? Do you sit? Do you stand? Do you pace? Do you do anything with your hands? Do you move your eyes in a particular pattern?
How you answer questions like these, it turns out, may determine how long it will take for you to decipher what you’re reading, solve your puzzle, or get your keys back.
The brain is often envisioned as something like a computer, and the body as its all-purpose tool. But a growing body of new research suggests that something more collaborative is going on – that we think not just with our brains, but with our bodies. A series of studies, the latest published in November, has shown that children can solve math problems better if they are told to use their hands while thinking. Another recent study suggested that stage actors remember their lines better when they are moving. And in one study published last year, subjects asked to move their eyes in a specific pattern while puzzling through a brainteaser were twice as likely to solve it.
The term most often used to describe this new model of mind is “embodied cognition,” and its champions believe it will open up entire new avenues for understanding – and enhancing – the abilities of the human mind. Some educators see in it a new paradigm for teaching children, one that privileges movement and simulation over reading, writing, and reciting. Specialists in rehabilitative medicine could potentially use the emerging findings to help patients recover lost skills after a stroke or other brain injury. The greatest impact, however, has been in the field of neuroscience itself, where embodied cognition threatens age-old distinctions – not only between brain and body, but between perceiving and thinking, thinking and acting, even between reason and instinct – on which the traditional idea of the mind has been built.
Read the rest of the article to learn about the history of the body/mind split (thanks, Descartes), which westerner challenging this notion (yay, Merleau-Ponty), and the ensuring research that proved him right (ahhhh, embodied cognition).