Neural development pathing

Why did people struggle with doing all of their shopping online during lockdown? The EC (Embodied Cognition) thesis suggests that the intersect between mind-behaviour is not merely an abstract but an ecological one. Actually standing in a shopping aisle triggers all sorts of rich sensory and perceptual datum that allows us to organise information better, connect with the “ground” of our environment, and experience a relational understanding of our lived world — Something missing from the “browse categories” and “add to cart” paradigm we were all forced into recently!

“work materials such as a blind man’s cane, a cell biologist’s microscope, or a mathematician’s calculator can become so deeply integrated into one’s cognitive processing, by scaffolding the structure of a task and even providing active sources of information-processing, that they are more properly viewed as parts of an extended cognitive system, rather than as mere stimuli or passive external memory resources for a disembodied mind”

Mind in time and place

However, it even goes further than that. Our actual capacity to think can be considered performative – in the Piagetian sense. In the Developmental Counselling and Therapy (DCT) framework, we can note the importance of engaging our sensorimotor capacity, logical (concrete) thinking capacity, as well as systemic ways of conceiving of the world around us — in cross-combination these faculties give us an embodied, balanced, and holistic use of our mind; in excess we can be thrown off balance in a variety of ways (e.g., the trauma victim enclosed in sensorimotor gear or the academic off with their thoughts in the systemic world – disconnected from the embodied mind).

Enriching embodiment

EC e-Lab

The evolution of technology and Government lockdowns the past few years have also shown us that we can transfer a lot of tasks to the virtual world. We might pose: Why does it feel more pleasurable to pick up an ink pen, to write a letter, and to lodge it, than to script an email and click on “Send”. All of these actions in the Lived World cannot simply be substituted to the virtual space without consequences on mental capacity, social embeddedness, and holistic understanding as we sometimes seem to believe they can!

Almost ironically, the EC lab (alongside) facilitates creative decision-making on how various objects and tools can be applied for learning and development. Yet, while the demo shows potential pathways for cognitive development at the abstract level, we still must actually embody and act out these activities to most benefit – capturing them in the embodied learning space, rather than dis-embodying our conceptions of them…

PhD training framework

I get a lot of enquiries from prospective PhD students. In the embedded approach students:

  • Apply practical methodologies to understand the subject matter, including taking part in the methods to gain a better understanding of treatment outcomes and bracketing researcher bias
  • Engage national and international industry to become a genuine expert in their sub-field
  • Receive a mentoring network with other academics rather than depending solely on supervisors

Due to personal circumstances I’m unable to serve as primary supervisor of projects in Australia at the moment; however I work closely with academics at 5 of the 9 major universities in Victoria and am often involved in adjunct, supportive, or auxiliary role in supervision. As I am often immune from the political hierarchies of the research centres at these places, students have often appreciated this level of support from a traditional ‘liberal arts’ approach of knowledge pursuit that my mentorship embodies.

EC + Social Neuroscience Paradigm

Human thinking does not occur in the black box with a clear-cut rational/irrational boundary - as proposed by the original cognitive science thesis - Rather all of our actions, ideas, and contexts are situationally-placed, and always relationally-mediated; in other words, the connections that intersect ideas and human beings alike often hold more enriching neural and cognitive datum than the abstract categories they generate afterwards.

EC clinical/research funding pitch

Lab Access