Anna Borghi

Anna Borghi
Sapienza University of Rome | la sapienza · Department of Dynamic and Clinical Psychology

Philosophy, PhD Psychology

About

257
Publications
92,465
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5,761
Citations
Additional affiliations
May 2002 - August 2002
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Position
  • Researcher
January 1999 - present
Italian National Research Council
Position
  • Research Associate

Publications

Publications (257)
Article
Full-text available
Experimental and computational studies propose that inner speech boosts categorisation skills and executive functions, making human behaviour more focused and flexible. In addition, many clinical studies highlight a relationship between poor inner-speech and an executive impairment in autism spectrum condition (ASC), but contrasting findings are re...
Article
Full-text available
There is a longstanding and widely held misconception about the relative remoteness of abstract concepts from concrete experiences. This review examines the current evidence for external influences and internal constraints on the processing, representation, and use of abstract concepts, like truth, friendship, and number. We highlight the theoretic...
Article
Full-text available
Traditionally, research on affordances and emotions follows two separate routes. For the first time, this article explicitly links the two phenomena by investigating whether, in a discrimination task (artifact vs. natural object), the motivational states induced by emotional images can modulate affordances-related motor response elicited by dangero...
Article
Sleep is an essential function of human life, underlying both biological and cultural processes. Dramatic changes in sleep occur during infancy, in terms of night awakenings, which tend to diminish over time, and day/night sleep duration, with newborns sleeping up to 16–17 h per day and gradually decreasing to 9–13 h between 6 and 11 months of age....
Article
This study extends the examination of the difference between abstract concepts to the Chinese language and its peculiar characteristics in word formation, where components with different semantic content might be aggregated within a word. Native Chinese speakers categorised abstract and concrete words by moving the computer mouse towards their choi...
Article
Full-text available
The outbreak of Covid-19 pandemics has dramatically affected people’s lives. Among newly established practices, it has likely enriched our conceptual representations with new components. We tested this by asking Italian participants during the first lockdown to rate a set of diverse words on several crucial dimensions. We found concepts are organiz...
Article
Full-text available
Social distancing during a pandemic might be influenced by different attitudes: people may decide to reduce the risk and protect themselves from viral contagion, or they can opt to maintain their habits and be more exposed to the infection. To better understand the underlying motivating attitudes, we asked participants to indicate in an online plat...
Article
Full-text available
Affordances, i.e. the opportunity of actions offered by the environment, are one of the central research topics for the theoretical perspectives that view cognition as emerging from the interaction between the environment and the body. Being at the bridge between perception and action, affordances help to question a dichotomous view of perception a...
Article
Compared to concrete concepts, like “book”, abstract concepts expressed by words like “justice” are more detached from sensorial experiences, even though they are also grounded in sensorial modalities. Abstract concepts lack a single object as referent and are characterized by higher variability both within and across participants. According to the...
Article
Full-text available
The sensorimotor system plays a critical role in several cognitive processes. Here, we review recent studies documenting this interplay at different levels. First, we concentrate on studies that have shown how the sensorimotor system is flexibly involved in interactions with objects. We report evidence demonstrating how social context and situation...
Article
Full-text available
Several studies have highlighted the flexible character of our conceptual system. However, less is known about the construction of meaning and the impact of novel concepts on the structuring of our conceptual space. We addressed these questions by collecting free listing data from Italian participants on a newly–and yet nowadays critical–introduced...
Preprint
Full-text available
Recent research has shown that the sensorimotor system plays a significant role in a variety of cognitive processes. In this paper, we will review recent studies performed in our lab (Body Action Language Lab, BALLAB) or in labs with which we collaborate, showing the involvement of the sensorimotor system at different levels. With the purpose of ex...
Article
Full-text available
concepts (ACs, e.g. ‘justice’) are more complex compared with concrete concepts (CCs) (e.g. ‘table’). Indeed, they do not possess a single object as a referent, they assemble quite heterogeneous members and they are more detached from exteroceptive and more grounded in interoceptive experience. Recent views have hypothesized that interpersonal comm...
Preprint
Experimental and computational studies propose that inner speech boosts categorisation skills and executive functions, making human behaviour more focused and flexible. In addition, many clinical studies highlight a relationship between poor inner-speech and an executive impairment in autism spectrum condition (ASC), but contrasting findings are re...
Preprint
This study extends the examination of the difference between abstract concepts to the Chinese language and its peculiar characteristics in word formation, where components with different semantic content might be aggregated within a word. Chinese students categorized abstract and concrete words by moving the computer mouse towards the selected choi...
Preprint
Sleep is an essential function of human life, underlying both biological and cultural processes. Dramatic changes in sleep occur during infancy, in terms of night awakenings, which tend to diminish over time, and day/night sleep duration, with newborns sleeping up to 16-17 hours per day and gradually decreasing to 9-13 hours between 6-11 months of...
Preprint
Concepts allow us to make sense of the world. Most evidence on their acquisition and representation comes from studies of single decontextualized words and focuses on the opposition between concrete and abstract concepts (e.g. bottle vs. truth). Our study examines linguistic exchanges analyzing the differences between sub-kinds of concepts. Partici...
Preprint
The first abstract words, terms not referring to here and now, are acquired slowly in infancy. They are difficult to acquire as they are more detached from sensory modalities than concrete words. Recent theories propose that, because of their complexity, other people are pivotal for abstract concepts’ acquisition and use. Eight children (4 girls) a...
Preprint
The outbreak of Covid-19 pandemics has dramatically affected people’s lives. Among newly established practices, it has likely enriched our conceptual representations with new components. We tested this asking Italian participants during the first lockdown to rate a set of diverse words on several crucial dimensions. We found concepts are organized...
Preprint
Full-text available
According to the embodied cognition perspective, linguistic negation may block the motor simulations induced by language processing. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) was applied to the left primary motor cortex (hand area) of monolingual Italian and German healthy participants during a rapid serial visual presentation of sentences from their...
Article
Full-text available
Using abstract concepts is a hallmark of human cognition. While multiple kinds of abstract concepts exist, they so far have been conceived as a unitary kind in opposition to concrete ones. Here, we focus on Institutional concepts, like justice or norm, investigating their fine-grained differences with respect to other kinds of abstract and concrete...
Article
Full-text available
The ability to differently perceive and represent entities depending on their perspective is crucial for humans. We report five experiments that investigate how the different perspectives adopted while experiencing entities are reflected in conceptualizations (towards vs. away, near vs. far, beside vs. above, inside vs. outside and vision vs. audit...
Article
Full-text available
Previous work suggests that perception of an object automatically facilitates actions related to object grasping and manipulation. Recently, the notion of automaticity has been challenged by behavioral studies suggesting that dangerous objects elicit aversive affordances that interfere with encoding of an object's motor properties; however, related...
Article
Recent theories propose that abstract concepts, compared to concrete ones, might activate to a larger extent interoceptive, social and linguistic experiences. At the same time, recent research has underlined the importance of investigating how different sub-kinds of abstract concepts are represented. We report a pre-registered experiment, preceded...
Preprint
Several studies highlighted the flexible character of our conceptual system. However, less is known about the construction of meaning and the impact of novel concepts on the structuring of our conceptual space. We addressed these questions by collecting free listing data from Italian participants on a newly–and yet nowadays critical–introduced conc...
Article
Full-text available
The function of language in high-order goal-directed human cognition is an important topic at the centre of current debates. Experimental evidence shows that inner speech, representing a self-directed form of language, empowers cognitive processes such as working memory, perception, categorization, and executive functions. Here we study the relatio...
Article
Full-text available
The role played by language in our cognitive lives is a topic at the centre of contemporary debates in cognitive (neuro)science. In this paper we illustrate and compare two theories that offer embodied explanations of this role: the WAT (words as social tools) and the LENS (language is an embodied neuroenhancement and scaffold) theories. WAT and LE...
Article
Full-text available
The paper outlines one of the most important challenges that embodied and grounded theories need to face, i.e., that to explain how abstract concepts (abstractness) are acquired, represented, and used. I illustrate the view according to which abstract concepts are grounded not only in sensorimotor experiences, like concrete concepts, but also and t...
Preprint
Full-text available
Neurological evidence has shown that brain damages canselectively impair the ability to discriminate between objectsbelonging to others and those that we feel are our own. Despite the ubiquity and relevance of this sense of object ownership for our life, the underlying cognitive mechanisms are still poorly understood. Here we ask whether psychologi...
Preprint
Full-text available
Recent theories propose that abstract concepts, compared to concrete ones, might activate to a larger extent interoceptive, social and linguistic experiences. At the same time, recent research has underlined the importance of investigating how different sub-kinds of abstract concepts are represented. We report a pre-registered experiment, preceded...
Preprint
Gender can be considered an embodied social concept, encompassing physical, biological, and concrete aspects, as well as cultural, linguistic, and abstract dimensions. In this study we explored whether the conceptual structure of gender—as expressed in participants’ free-listing responses and ratings—varies as a function of different cultural and l...
Preprint
The function of language in high-order goal-directed human cognition is an important topic at the centre of current debates. Experimental evidence shows that inner speech, representing a self-directed form of language, empowers cognitive processes such as working memory, perception, categorization, and executive functions. Here we study the relati...
Article
Full-text available
It is debated whether only concrete but also abstract, figurative sentences, e.g.: “She grasps the cup” vs. “She grasps the concept”, are grounded in the sensorimotor system. Importantly, studies on sentences with action verbs and motor system activation have been conducted so far only with WEIRD samples (Western cultures, in North American and Eur...
Article
Full-text available
Thinking about what the senses cannot grasp is one of the hallmarks of human cognition. We argue that “intangible abstracta” are represented differently from other products of abstraction, that goal-derived categorization supports their learning, and that they are grounded also in internalized linguistic and social interaction. We conclude by sugge...
Preprint
Full-text available
This study explores the relationship between physical and moral cleanliness (“Macbeth Effect”). Participants had to wash their hands or to manipulate a cube, then to read a story about an immoral or a neutral situation and at last to evaluate the semantic association between pairs of words. The pairs either included a term related to morality and o...
Preprint
Full-text available
Abstract concepts (e.g. “justice”) differ from concrete concepts (e.g. “table”) because they are more detached from exteroceptive and more grounded in interoceptive experience, they do not possess a single object as referent, and they assemble quite heterogeneous members. Recent views have hypothesized that interpersonal communication is particular...
Preprint
concepts (e.g. “justice”) differ from concrete concepts (e.g. “table”) because they are more detached from exteroceptive and more grounded in interoceptive experience, they do not possess a single object as referent, and they assemble quite heterogeneous members. Recent views have hypothesized that interpersonal communication is particularly crucia...
Preprint
Full-text available
The role played by language in our cognitive lives is a topic at the centre of contemporary debates in cognitive (neuro)science. In this paper we illustrate and compare two theories that offer embodied explanations of this role: the WAT (Words As social Tools) and the LENS (Language is an Embodied Neuroenhancement and Scaffold) theories. WAT and LE...
Article
Gender has been the focus of linguistic and psychological studies, but little is known about its conceptual representation. We investigate whether the conceptual structure of gender – as expressed in participants’ free-listing responses – varies according to gender-related experiences in line with research on conceptual flexibility. Specifically, w...
Article
Full-text available
It is debated whether only concrete but also abstract, figurative sentences, e.g.: “She grasps the cup” vs. ”She grasps the concept”, are grounded in the sensorimotor system. Importantly, studies on sentences with action verbs and motor system activation have been conducted so far only with WEIRD samples (Western cultures, in North American and Eur...
Preprint
It is debated whether only concrete but also abstract, figurative sentences, e.g.: “She grasps the cup” vs. ”She grasps the concept”, are grounded in the sensorimotor system. Importantly, studies on sentences with action verbs and motor system activation have been conducted so far only with WEIRD samples (Western cultures, in North American and Eur...
Article
Recent reformulations of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis have shown how labels can guide our thinking in situations of uncertainty, facilitating the identification of objects. We examine whether the effect of labels extends beyond perceptual processes, to help us learn the motoric manipulations required to use novel tools. Exploiting immersive virtual r...
Preprint
Full-text available
Gender has been the focus of linguistic and psychological studies, but little is known about its conceptual representation. We investigate whether the conceptual structure of gender—as expressed in participants’ free-listing responses—varies according to gender-related experiences in line with research on conceptual flexibility. Specifically, we te...
Article
Full-text available
Perturbations to the speech articulators induced by frequently using an interfering object during infancy (i.e. pacifier) might shape children's language experience and the building of conceptual representations. Seventy-one typically developing third graders performed a semantic categorization task with abstract, concrete and emotional words. Chil...
Article
Full-text available
The issue of how abstract concepts are represented is widely debated. However, evidence is controversial, also because different criteria were used to select abstract concepts – for example, imageability and abstractness were equated. In addition, for many years abstract concepts have been considered as a unitary whole. Our work aims to address the...
Preprint
Full-text available
Accepted on Language and Cognition - The issue of how abstract concepts are represented is widely debated. However, evidence is controversial, also because different criteria were used to select abstract concepts - for example, imageability and abstractness were equated. In addition, for many years abstract concepts have been considered as an unita...
Chapter
An emerging class of theories of knowledge assumes that the representation and processing of concepts is achieved by reactivating multiple aspects of experience. Abstract concepts such as freedom and justice constitute a challenge for these theories because they have no clearly identifiable referent that we can experience. The Words As social Tools...
Article
Full-text available
Research in psychology has undergone many changes in the last twenty years. The increased and tighter relationship between psychology, neuroscience, and philosophy, the emergence and affirmation of embodied and grounded cognition approaches, the grow of interest on new research topics, the strengthening of new areas, such as the social, cognitive a...
Article
Full-text available
Sociality influences both concrete and abstract concepts acquisition and representation, but in different ways. Here we propose that sociality is crucial during the acquisition of abstract concepts but less for concrete concepts, that have a bounded perceptual referent and can be learned more autonomously. For the acquisition of abstract concepts,...
Preprint
Full-text available
Articolo su richiesta per il premio Best Paper AISC Vittorio Girotto 2017, in corso di pubblicazione su Sistemi Intelligenti. Versione provvisoria. To explain how abstract concepts, like “truth”, are represented is pivotal for embodied and grounded theories, according to which concepts are grounded in sensorimotor system. An important novelty in re...
Article
Full-text available
Considering that humans must use external tools to solve problems, any account of human cognition should incorporate such intentional tool-using processes into its models of environmental adaptation. In the traditional ecological paradigm and embodied cognitive science, affordances (i.e., possibilities for action which are available for an agent to...
Article
Full-text available
According to embodied and grounded theories, concepts are grounded in sensorimotor systems. The majority of evidence supporting these views concerns concepts referring to objects or actions, while evidence on abstract concepts is more scarce. Explaining how abstract concepts such as “freedom” are represented would thus be pivotal for grounded theor...
Article
The paper introduces a new perspective on abstract concepts (e.g. “freedom”) and their associate words representation, the Words As social Tools (WAT) view. Traditional theories conceptualize language as a way to index referents, a shortcut to access meaning, or a way to access meaning through words associations. WAT goes beyond these theories by i...
Article
Full-text available
Starting from a rich body of evidence on the strict bidirectional relationship between numerical cognition and action processes, the present study aims at deepening the existing knowledge of the influence of body movement on arithmetic calculation. Numerous studies have shown that moving the body along the vertical or the horizontal axis could faci...
Article
Full-text available
Knowing whether an object is owned and by whom is essential to avoid costly conflicts. We hypothesize that everyday interactions around objects are influenced by a minimal sense of object ownership grounded on respect of possession. In particular, we hypothesize that tracking object ownership can be influenced by any cue that predicts the establish...
Article
The capacity for abstract thought is one of the hallmarks of human cognition. However, the mechanisms underlying the ability to form and use abstract concepts like ‘fantasy’ and ‘grace’ have not been elucidated yet. This theme issue brings together developmental, social and cognitive psychologists, linguists, anthropologists, cognitive scientists,...
Article
The problem of representation of abstract concepts, such as ‘freedom’ and ‘justice’, has become particularly crucial in recent years, owing to the increased success of embodied and grounded views of cognition. We will present a novel view on abstract concepts and abstract words. Since abstract concepts do not have single objects as referents, child...
Article
Embodied and grounded cognition theories have assumed that the sensorimotor system is causally involved in processing motor-related language content. Although a causal proof is ethically not possible today, the present f MRI study provides formal confirmation of this longstanding speculation, as far as it is possible with recent methods, employing...
Article
Full-text available
Embodied and grounded cognition theories have assumed that the sensorimotor system is causally involved in processing motor-related language content. Although a causal proof on a single-cell basis is ethically not possible today, the present fMRI study provides confirmation of this longstanding speculation, as far as it is possible with recent meth...
Preprint
Full-text available
According to embodied and grounded theories concepts are grounded in sensorimotor systems. The majority of evidence supporting these views concerns concepts referring to objects or actions, while evidence on abstract concepts is more scarce. Explaining how abstract concepts, as “freedom”, are represented, would however be pivotal for grounded theor...
Preprint
Full-text available
According to embodied and grounded theories concepts are grounded in sensorimotor systems. The majority of evidence supporting these views concerns concepts referring to objects or actions, while evidence on abstract concepts is more scarce. Explaining how abstract concepts, as “freedom”, are represented, would however be pivotal for grounded theor...
Preprint
Full-text available
According to embodied and grounded theories concepts are grounded in sensorimotor systems. The majority of evidence supporting these views concerns concepts referring to objects or actions, while evidence on abstract concepts is more scarce. Explaining how abstract concepts, as “freedom”, are represented, would however be pivotal for grounded theor...
Preprint
The problem of representation of abstract concepts, such as “freedom” and “justice”, has become particularly crucial in recent years, due to the increased success of embodied and grounded views of cognition. We will present a novel view on abstract concepts and abstract words. Since abstract concepts do not have single objects as referents, childre...
Article
Full-text available
This study explores the impact of the extensive use of an oral device since infancy (pacifier) on the acquisition of concrete, abstract, and emotional concepts. While recent evidence showed a negative relation between pacifier use and children's emotional competence (Niedenthal et al., 2012), the possible interaction between use of pacifier and pro...