MiB: Thought Driven by Motion Not Language

We tend to think of language as a driver of thought, but what if it is something older?

Motion has been a part of human thought ever since we could walk upright if not before. Our guest this week, professor of experimental psychology at Stanford and Columbia University Barbara Tversky, believes motion is the key factor driving human cognitive development. The author of more than 200 research papers, her new book is Mind in Motion: How Action Shapes Thought. The book details her 9 Rules of Cognition, and how motion affects our thought processes.

Tversky’s research focuses on visual-spatial reasoning and collaborative cognition. She discusses the interplay of mind and body in enabling cognition. Consider gesture as an example. Tversky argues that gesturing is more than just a by-product of speech: it literally helps us to think. An experiment in her book is to “try to explain out loud how to get from your house to the supermarket, train station, your office or school” while you sit on your hands. It turns out to be very difficult. Without gesture, speaking is difficult, and we occasionally “can’t find the words.”

Tversky was married to Amos Tversky, and helped Michael Lewis do his research for his book on Amos Tversky & Danny Kahneman, The Undoing Project.

Her favorite books can be seen here; A transcript of our conversation will be available here.

You can stream/download the full conversation, including the podcast extras on Apple iTunesOvercastSpotifyGoogleBloomberg, and Stitcher. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here.

Next week, we speak with Chris Davis, Chairman and CEO of Davis Selected Advisors, which has over $25 billion under management. Davis is also on the board of directors of Coca Cola, and is Vice Chairman of the American Museum of Natural History.



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