Speaking without Thinking: Embodiment, Speech Technology and Social Signal Processing

  • Tim Rohrer
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 6456)


Neuroimaging results and related results from neuroscience have shown that the “multimodal” areas of the brain responsible for sensory integration are fundamental to semantic comprehension and language production. Developmental studies have shown that language comprehension and production involves infants learning by imitation from their caregivers to coordinate multimodal schemas that cross from one perceptual modality to another. Analyzing the both the physiological and socio-cultural constraints of embodiment on language, perception and cognition, I develop a theory of image schemas. As with the Gestalt perceptual structures, image schemas are dynamic perceptual wholes which prompt for ‘normal’ pattern completions based on our recurrent experiences in interacting with the world. I conclude by describing how both the theory of image schemas and embodied cognitive science generally can bring a fresh perspective to machine-learning problems such as the visual recognition of speech, emotion and gesture.


embodiment social signal processing image schemas gestalt pattern completion embodied cognitive science multimodal schemas 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Turing, A.M.: Computing machinery and intelligence. Mind 59, 433–460 (1950)MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bohn, O.: Linguistic relativity in speech perception: An overview of the influence of language experience on the perception of speech sounds from infancy to adulthood. In: Niemeier, S., Dirven, R. (eds.) Evidence for Linguistic Relativity, pp. 1–12. John Benjamins, Amsterdam (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Kristiansen, G.: How to do things with allophones. Linguistic stereotypes as cognitive reference points in social cognition. In: Dirven, R., Frank, R., Pütz, M. (eds.) Cognitive Models in Language and Thought. Ideology, Metaphors and Meaning, pp. 69–120. Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin (2003)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Meltzoff, A., Moore, M.K.: Imitation of facial and manual gestures by human neonates. Science 198, 74–78 (1977)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Meltzoff, A.: Molyneux’s babies: Cross-modal perception, imitation and the mind of the preverbal infant. In: Spatial Representation: Problems in Philosophy and Psychology, pp. 219–235. Blackwell, Cambridge (1993)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Johansson, G.: Visual perception of biological motion and a model for its analysis. Perception and Psychophysics 14, 201–211 (1973)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Wertheimer, M.: Laws of organization in perceptual forms. In: Ellis, W (ed. & trans.), A source book of Gestalt psychology, pp. 71-88. Routledge & Kegan Paul, London (Original work published in 1923, as Untersuchungen zur Lehre von der Gestalt II, in Psychologische Forschung, 4:301-350) (1923/1938)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Arterberry, M.E., Borsnstein, M.H.: Three-month-old infants’ categorization of animals and vehicles based on static and dynamic attributes. J. Experimental Child Psychology 80, 333–346 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Bertenthal, B.I.: Infants’ perception of biomechanical motions: Intrinsic image and knowledge-based constraints. In: Granrud, C. (ed.) Visual Perception and Cognition in Infancy, pp. 175–214. Routledge, New York (1993)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Meltzoff, A., Borton, R.W.: Intermodal matching by human neonates. Nature 282, 403–404 (1979)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Stern, D.N.: The interpersonal world of the infant. Basic Books, New York (1985)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Rose, S.A., Ruff, H.A.: Cross modal abilities in human infants. In: Osofsky, J.D. (ed.) Handbook of infant development, pp. 318–362. Wiley, New York (1987)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Rose, S.A., Blank, M.S., Bridger, W.H.: Intermodal and Intramodal retention of visual and tactual information in young children. Developmental Psychology 6, 482–486 (1972)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Lewkowicz, D.J., Turkewitz, G.: Intersensory interaction in newborns: modification of visual preferences following exposure to sound. Child Development 52, 827–832 (1981)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Woodward, A.L.: Infants selectively encode the goal object of an actor’s reach. Cognition 69, 1–34 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Woodward, A.L.: Infants’ ability to distinguish between purposeful and non-purposeful behaviors. Infant Behavior and Development 22, 145–160 (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Woodward, A.L., Guajardo, J.J.: Infants’ understanding of the point gesture as an object-directed action. Cognitive Development 83, 1–24 (2002)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Johnson, M.L.: The Body in the Mind: The Bodily Basis of Meaning, Imagination and Reason. University of Chicago Press, Chicago (1987)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Lakoff, G.: Women, Fire and Dangerous Things. University of Chicago Press, Chicago (1987)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Lakoff, G., Johnson, M.L.: Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought. Basic Books, New York (1999)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Johnson, M.L., Rohrer, T.: We are live creatures: Embodiment, American pragmatism, and the cognitive organism. In: Zlatev, J., Ziemke, T., Frank, R., Dirven, R. (eds.) Body, Language, and Mind, vol. 1, pp. 17–54. Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin (2007)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Rizzolatti, G., Craighero, L.: The mirror neuron system. Annual Review of Neuroscience 27, 169–192 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Fogassi, L., Gallese, V., Buccino, G., Craighero, L., Fadiga, L., Rizzolatti, G.: Cortical mechanism for the visual guidance of hand grasping movements in the monkey: A reversible inactivation study. Brain 124, 571–586 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Buccino, G., Binkofski, F., Fink, G.R., Fadiga, L., Fogassi, L., Gallese, V., Seitz, J., Zilles, K., Rizzolatti, G., Freund, H.: Action observation activates premotor and parietal areas in a somatotopic manner: an fMRI study. European Journal of Neuroscience 13, 400–404 (2001)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Umiltá, M.A., Kohler, E., Gallese, V., Fogassi, L., Fadiga, L., Keysers, C., Rizzolatti, G.I.: know what you are doing: A neurophysiological study. Neuron 31, 155–165 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Ferrari, P.F., Gallese, V., Rizzolatti, G., Fogassi, L.: Mirror neurons responding to the observation of ingestive and communicative mouth actions in the monkey ventral premotor cortex. European Journal of Neuroscience 17, 1703–1714 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Kohler, E., Keysers, C., Umiltá, M.A., Fogassi, L., Gallese, V., Rizzolatti, G.: Hearing sounds, understanding actions: action representation in mirror neurons. Science 297, 846–848 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Suzuki, K., Yamadori, A., Fujii, T.: Category specific comprehension deficit restricted to body parts. Neurocase 3, 193–200 (1997)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Penfield, W.G., Rasmussen, T.B.: The cerebral cortex of man. Macmillan, New York (1950)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Coslett, H.B., Saffran, E.M., Schwoebel, J.: Knowledge of the human body: a distinct semantic domain. Neurology 59, 357–363 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Schwoebel, J., Coslett, H.B.: Evidence for multiple, distinct representations of the human body. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 4, 543–553 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Hauk, O., Johnsrude, I., Pulvermüller, F.: Somatotopic representation of action words in human motor and premotor cortex. Neuron 41, 301–307 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Pulvermüller, F., Hauk, O., Nikulin, V., Ilmoniemi, R.J.: Functional interaction of language and action processing: A TMS study. MirrorBot: Biometric multimodal learning in a mirror neuron-based robot, Report #8 (2002)Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Rohrer, T.: Image Schemata in the Brain. In: Hampe, B. (ed.) From Perception to Meaning: Image Schemas in Cognitive Linguistics, pp. 165–196. Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Zwaan, R.A., Madden, C.J., Yaxley, R.A., Aveyard, M.A.: Moving words: Dynamic representations in language comprehension. Cognitive Science 28, 611–619 (2004)Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Glenberg, A.M., Kaschak, M.P.: Grounding language in action. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 9, 558–565 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Gibbs, R.W.: The psychological status of image schemas. In: Hampe, B. (ed.) From Perception to Meaning: Image Schemas in Cognitive Linguistics, pp. 113–135. Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Rohrer, T.: Understanding through the body: fMRI and ERP studies of metaphoric and literal language. Paper presented at the 7th International Cognitive Linguistics Association conference (2001)Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Moore, C.I., Stern, C.I., Corkin, S., Fischl, B., Gray, A.C., Rosen, B.R., Dale, A.M.: Segregation of somatosensory activation in the human rolandic cortex using fMRI. Journal of Neurophysiology 84, 558–569 (2000)Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Matlock, T., Ramscar, M., Boroditsky, L.: The experiential link between spatial and temporal language. Cognitive Science 29, 655–664 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Fischl, B., Sereno, M.I., Tootell, R.B.H., Dale, A.M.: High-resolution inter-subject averaging and a coordinate system for the cortical surface. Human Brain Mapping 8, 272–284 (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    McGurk, H., MacDonald, J.: Hearing lips and seeing voices. Nature, 746–748 (1976)Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Rohrer, T.: The body in space: Embodiment, experientialism and linguistic conceptualization. In: Zlatev, J., Ziemke, T., Frank, R., Dirven, R. (eds.) Body, Language, and Mind, vol. 2, pp. 339–378. Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin (2007)Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Rohrer, T.: Pragmatism, ideology and embodiment: William James and the philosophical foundations of cognitive linguistics. In: Dirven, R., Hawkins, B., Sandikcioglu, E. (eds.) Language and Ideology: Cognitive Theoretic Approaches, vol. 1, pp. 49–81. John Benjamins, Amsterdam (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tim Rohrer
    • 1
  1. 1.Colorado Advanced Research InstituteBoulder

Personalised recommendations